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DISCOURSES 



ADDRESSED TO 



MIXED CONGREGATIONS. 



DISCOURSES 



ADDRESSED TO 



MIXED CONGREGATIONS. 



BY 

JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN. 



SEVENTH EDITION. 



LONDON : 
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 

AND NEW YORK : 15 EAST i6'h STREET. 
1891. 

All eights rescr~>cd. 



TO THE 



Eight Eev. NICHOLAS WISEMAN, D.D., 

BISHOP OF MELIPOTAMUS, 
AND VICAB APOSTOLIC OF THE LONDON DISTBICT, 

ETC., ETC., ETC. 



My dear Lord, 

I present for your Lordship's kind acceptance 
and patronage the first work which I publish as 
a Father of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. I have 
a sort of claim upon your permission to do so, as a 
token of my -affection and gratitude toward your 
Lordship, since it is to you principally that I owe it, 
under God, that I am a client and subject, however 
unworthy, of so great a Saint. 

When I found myself a Catholic, I also found 
myself in your Lordship's district ; and, at your 
suggestion, I first moved into your immediate neigh- 
bourhood, and then, when your Lordship further 
desired it, I left you for Eome. There it was my 
blessedness to be allowed to offer myself, with the 



vi Dedication. 

condescending approval of the Holy Father, to the 
service of St. Philip, of whom I had so often heard 
you speak before I left England, and whose bright 
and beautiful character had won my devotion, even 
when I was a Protestant. 

You see then, my dear Lord, how much you have 
to do with my present position in tl>e Church. But 
your concern with it is greater than I have yet stated ; 
for I cannot forget, that when, in the year 1839, a 
doubt first crossed my mind of the tenableness of the 
theological theory on which Anglicanism is based, it 
was caused in no slight degree by the perusal of a 
controversial paper, attributed to your Lordship, on 
the schism of the Donatists. 

That the glorious intercession of St. Philip may be 
the reward of your faithful devotion to himself, and 
of your kindness to me, is. 

My dear Lord, 

while I ask your Lordship's blessing on me and mine, 

the earnest prayer of 

Your affectionate friend and servant, 

JOHN HENEY NEWMAN, 

OF THE ORATORY. 

In Fest. S. Caroli, 
1849. 



CONTENTS. 

DISCOURSE I. 

PAGE 
THE SALVATION OP THE HEARER THE MOTIVE OF THE 

PREACHER, 1 

DISCOURSE II. 

NEGLECT OF DIVINE CALLS AND WARNINGS, ... 22 

DISCOURSE III. 

MEN, NOT ANGELS, THE PRIESTS OF THE GOSPEL, . . 43 

DISCOURSE IV. 

V PURITY AND LOVE, 62 

DISCOURSE V. 

y 8AINTLINE8S THE STANDARD OF CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE, . 83 

DISCOURSE VI. 

god's WILL THE END OF LIFE, 104 

DISCOURSE VII. 

PERSEVERANCE IN GRACE, 124 

DISCOURSE VIII. 

NATURE AND GRACE, 145 

DISCOURSE IX. 

ILLUMINATING GRACE, 169 

DISCOURSE X. 

FAITH AND PRIVATE JUDGMENT, 192 



viii Contents. 

DISCOURSE XI, 

I'AGE 
FAITH AND DOUBT, 214 

DISCOURSE XII. 

PROSPECTS OF THE CATHOLIC MISSIONEB, . . . 238 

DISCOURSE XIII. 

MYSTERIES OF NATURE AND OF GRACE, .... 260 

DISCOURSE XIV. 

\y THE MYSTERY OF DIVINE CONDESCENSION, . . . 284 

DISCOURSE XV. 

THE INFINITUDE OF THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES, . . 305 

DISCOURSE XVI. 

MENTAL SUFFERINGS OF OUR LORD IN HIS PASSION, . 323 

DISCOURSE XVII. 

THE GLORIES OF MARY FOR THE SAKE OF HER SON, . 342 

DISCOURSE XVIIL 

ON THE FITNESS OF THE GLORIES OF MARY, . . . 360 



DISCOURSE I. 

THE SALVATION OF THE HEARER THE MOTIVE 
OF THE PREACHER. 

TTTHEN" a body of men come into a neighbourhood 
to them unknown, as we are doing, my brethren, 
strangers to strangers, and there set themselves down, 
and raise an altar, and open a school, and invite, or 
even exhort all men to attend them, it is natural that 
they who see them, and are drawn to think about 
them, should ask the question, What brings them 
hither ? Who bids them come ? What do they 
want ? What do they preacli ? What is their war- 
rant ? What do they promise ? — You have a right, my 
brethren, to ask the question. 

Many, however, will not stop to ask it, as thinking 
they can answer it without difficulty for themselves. 
Many there are who would promptly and confidently 
answer it, according to their own habitual view of 
things, on their own principles, the principles of the 
world. The views, the principles, the aims of the 
world are very definite, are everywhere acknowledged, 
and are incessantly acted on. They supply an ex- 
planation of the conduct of individuals, whoeverthey be, 



2 The Salvatio7i of the Hearer 

ready at hand, and so sure to be true in the common 
run of cases, as to be probable and plausible in any 
case in particular. When we would account for 
effects which we see, we of course refer them to 
causes which we know of To fancy causes of which 
we know nothing, is not to account for them at all. 
The world then naturally and necessarily judges of 
others by itself. Those who live the life of the world, 
and act from motives of the world, and live and act 
with those who do the like, as a matter of course 
ascribe the actions of others, however different they 
may be from their own, to one or other of the motives 
which weigh with themselves ; for some motive or 
other they must assign, and they can imagine none 
but those of which they have experience. 

We know how the world goes on, especially in this 
country ; it is a laborious, energetic, indefatigable 
world. It takes up objects enthusiastically, and 
vigorously carries them through. Look into the world, 
as its course is faithfully traced day by day in 
those publications which are devoted to its service, 
and you will see at once the ends which stimulate it, 
and the views which govern it. You will read of 
great and persevering exertions, made for some tem- 
poral end, good or bad, but still temporal. Some 
temporal end it is, even if it be not a selfish one ; — 
generally, indeed, it is such as name, influence, power, 
wealth, station ; sometimes it is the relief of the ills 
of human life or society, of ignorance, sickness, 
poverty, or vice — still some temporal end it is, which 
is the exciting and animating principle of those 



the Motive of the Preacher. 3 

exertions. And so pleasant is the excitement which 
tliose temporal objects create, that it is often its own 
reward ; insomuch that, forgetting the end for which 
they toil, men find a satisfaction in the toil itself, and 
are sufficiently repaid for their trouble 'by their trouble, 
— by the struggle for success, and the rivalry of party, 
and the trial of their skill, and the demand upon their 
resources, by the vicissitudes and hazards, and ever 
new emergencies, and varying requisitions of the 
contest which they carry on, though that contest 
never comes to an end. 

Such is the way of the world ; and therefore, I say, 
it is not unnatural, that, when it sees any persons 
whatever anywhere begin to work with energy, and 
attempt to get others about them, and act in outward 
appearance like itself, though in a dififerent direction 
and with a religious profession, it should unhesi- 
tatingly impute to them the motives which influence, 
or would influence its own children. Often by way 
of blame, but sometimes not as blaming, but as merely 
stating a plain fact, which it thinks undeniable, it 
takes for granted that they are ambitious, or restless, 
or eager for distinction, or fond of power. It knows 
no better ; and it is vexed and annoyed if, as time 
goes on, one thing or another is seen in the conduct 
of those whom it criticises, which is inconsistent with 
the assumption on which, in the first instance, it so 
summarily settled their position and anticipated their 
course . It took a general view of them, looked them 
through, as it thought, and from some one action of 
theirs which came to its knowledge, assigned to them 



4 The Salvation of the Hearer 

unhesitatingly some particular motive as their habi- 
tual actuating principle ; but presently it finds it is 
obliged to shift its ground, to take up some new 
hypothesis, and explain to itself their character and 
their conduct over again. 0, my dear brethren, the 
world cannot help doing so, because it knows us not ; 
it ever will be impatient with us for not being of the 
world, because it is the world ; it is necessarily blind 
to the one strong motive which has influence with us, 
and, tired out at length with hunting through its cata- 
logues and note-books for a description of us, it sits 
down in disgust, after its many conjectures, and flings 
us aside as inexplicable, or hates us as if mysterious 
and designing. 

My brethren, we hav& secret views — secret, that is 
from men of this world ; secret from politicians, secret 
from the slaves of mammon, secret from all ambitious, 
covetous, selfish, and voluptuous men. For religion 
itself, like its Divine Author and Teacher, is, as I 
have said, a hidden thing from them ; and not 
knowing it, they cannot use it as a key to interpret 
the conduct of those who are influenced by it. They 
do not know the ideas and motives which religion sets 
before that mind which it has made its own. They do 
not enter into them, or realize them, even when they 
are told them ; and they do not believe that a man 
can be influenced by them, even when he professes 
them. They cannot put themselves into the position 
of a man simply striving, in what he does, to please 
God. They are so narrow-minded, such is the mean- 
ness of their intellectual make, that, when a Catholic 



the Motive of the Preacher. 5 

makes profession of this or that doctrine of the 
Church, — sin, judgment, heaven and hell, the blood 
of Christ, the power of Saints, the intercession of the 
Blessed Virgin, or the real presence in the Eucharist 
— and says that these are the objects which inspire 
his thoughts and direct his actions through the day, 
they cannot take in that he is in earnest ; for they 
think, forsooth, that these points ought to be his very 
difficulties, and are at most nothing more than trials 
to his faith, and that he gets over them by putting 
force on his reason, and thinks of them as little as he 
can ; and they do not dream that truths such as these 
have a hold upon his heart, and exert an influence on 
his life. No wonder, then, that the sensual, and 
worldly-minded, and the unbelieving, are suspicious 
of one whom they cannot comprehend, and are so 
intricate and circuitous in their imputations, when 
they cannot bring themselves to accept an explana- 
tion which is straight before them. So it has been 
from the beginning ; the Jews preferred to ascribe the 
conduct of our Lord and His forerunner to any motive 
but that of a desire to fulfil the will of God. To the 
Jews they were, as He says, " like children sitting in 
the market-place, which cry to their companions, say- 
ing. We have piped to you, and you have not danced ; 
we have lamented to you, and you have not mourned." 
And then He goes on to account for it : "I thank 
Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou 
hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and 
hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father ; for 
so hath it been pleasing to Thy sight." 



6 The Salvation of the Hearer 

Let the world have its way, let it say what it will 
about us, my brethren ; but that does not hinder our 
saying what we think, and what the eternal God 
thinks and says, about the world. We have as good 
a right to have our own judgment about the world, as 
the world to have its judgment about us : and we 
mean to exercise that right ; for, while we know well 
it judges us amiss, we have God's testimony that we 
judge it truly. While, then, it is eager in ascribing 
our earnestness to one or other of its own motives, 
listen to me, while I show you, as it is not difficult to 
do, that it is our very fear and hatred of those motives, 
and our compassion for the souls possessed by them, 
which makes us so busy and so troublesome, which 
prompts us to settle down in a district, so destitute 
of outward recommendations, but so overrun with 
religious error and so populous in souls. 

my brethren, little does the world, engrossed, as 
it is, M'ith things of time and sense, little does it trouble 
itself about souls, about the state of souls in God's 
sight, about their past history, and about their prospects 
for the future. The world forms its views of things for 
itself, and in its own way, and lives in them. It never 
stops to consider whether they are sound and true ; nor 
does it come into its thought to seek for any external 
standard, or channel of information, by which their 
truth can be ascertained. It is content to take things 
for granted according to their first appearance ; it does 
not stop to think of God ; it lives for the day, and (in 
a perverse sense) " is not solicitous for the morrow." 
What it sees, tastes, handles, is enough for it ; this is 



the Motive of the Preacher. 7 

the limit of its knowledge and of its aspirations ; what 
tells, what works well, is alone respectable ; efificiency 
is the measure of duty, and power is the rule of right, 
and success is the test of truth. It believes what it 
experiences, it disbelieves what it cannot demonstrate. 
And, in consequence, it teaches that a man has not 
much to do to be saved ; that either he has committed 
no great sins, or that he will, as a matter of course, be 
pardoned for committing tliem ; that he may securely 
trust in God's mercy for his prospects in eternity ; and 
that he ought to discard all self-reproach, or depreca- 
tion, or penance, all mortification and self-discipline, 
as affronting or derogatory to that mercy. This is 
what the world teaches, by its many sects and philo- 
sophies, about our condition in this life, this and tiie 
like ; but what, on the other hand, does the Catholic 
Church teach concerning it ? 

She teaches that man was originally made in God's 
image, was God's adopted son, was the heir of eternal 
glory, and, in foretaste of eternity, was partaker here 
on earth of great gifts and manifold graces ; and she 
teaches that now he is a fallen being. He is under 
the curse of original sin ; he is deprived of tlie grace 
of God ; he is a child of wrath ; he cannot attain to 
heaven, and he is in peril of sinking into hell. I do 
not mean he is fated to perdition by some necessary 
law ; he cannot perish without his own real will and 
deed ; and God gives him, even in his natural state, a 
multitude of inspirations and helps to lead him on to 
faith and obedience. There is no one born of Adara 
but might be saved, as far as divine assistances are 



8 The Salvation of the Hearer 

concerned ; yet, looking at the power of temptation, 
the force of the passions, the strength of self-love and 
self-will, the sovereignty of pride and sloth, in every 
one of his children, who will be bold enough to assert 
of any particular soul, that it will be able to maintain 
itself in obedience, without an abundance, a profusion 
of grace, not to be expected, as bearing no proportion, 
I do not say simply to the claims (for they are none), 
but to the bare needs of human nature ? We may 
securely prophesy of every man born into the world, 
that, if he comes to years of understanding, he will, in 
spite of God's general assistances, fall into mortal sin 
and lose his soul. It is no light, no ordinary succour, 
by which man is taken out of his own hands and 
defended against himself. He requires an extraordinary 
remedy. Now what a thought is this ! what a light 
does it cast upon man's present state ! how diffe- 
rent from the view which the world takes of it ; how 
piercing, how overpowering in its influence on the 
hearts that admit it. 

Contemplate, my brethren, more steadily the 
history of a soul born into the world, and educated 
according to its principles, and the idea, which I am 
putting before you, will grow on you. The poor infant 
passes through his two, or three, or five years of 
innocence, blessed in that he cannot yet sin ; but at 
length (0 woeful day !) he begins to realize the dis- 
tinction between right and wrong. Alas ! sooner or 
later, for the age varies, but sooner or later the awful 
day has come ; he has the power, the great, the dread- 
ful, the awful power of discerning and pronouncing a 



the Motive of the Preacher. 9 

thing to be wrong, and yet doing it. He has a distinct 
view that he shall grievously offend his Maker and his 
Judge by doing this or that ; and while he is really 
able to keep from it, he is at liberty to choose it, and 
to commit it. He has the dreadful power of commit- 
ting a mortal sin. Young as he is, he has as true an 
apprehension of that sin, and can give as real a con- 
sent, as did the evil spirit, when he fell. The day is 
come, and who shall say whether it will have closed, 
whether it will have run out many hours, before he 
will have exercised that power, and have perpetrated, 
in fact, what he ought not to do, what he need not 
do, what he can do ? Who is there whom we ever 
knew, of whom we can assert that, had he remained 
in a state of nature, he would have used the powers 
given him, — that if he be in a state of nature, he has 
used the powers given him, — in such a way as to 
escape the guilt and penalty of offending Almighty 
God ? No, my brethren, a large town like this is a 
fearful sight. We walk the streets, and what num- 
bers are there of those who meet us who have never 
been baptized at all ! And the remainder, what is it 
made up of, but for the most part of those who, 
though baptized, have sinned against the grace given 
them, and even from early youth have thrown them- 
selves out of that fold in which alone is salvation ! 
Eeason and sin have gone together from the first. 
Poor child, he looks the same to his parents ! They do 
not know what has been going on in him ; or perhaps, 
did they know it, they would think very little of it, 
for they are in a state of mortal sin as well as he. 



lo The Salvation of the Hearer 

They too, long before they knew each other, had 
sinned, and mortally too, and were never reconciled 
to God ; thus they lived for years, unmindful of their 
state. At length they married ; it was a day of joy 
to them, but not to the Angels ; they might be in high 
life or in low estate, they might be prosperous or not 
in their temporal course, but their union was not 
blessed by God. They gave birth to a child ; he was 
not condemned to hell on his birth, but he had the 
omens of evil upon him, it seemed that he would go 
the way of all flesh : and now the time is come ; the 
presage is justified ; and he willingly departs from 
God. At length the forbidden fruit has been eaten ; 
sin has been devoured with a pleased appetite ; the 
gates of hell have yawned upon him, silently and 
without his knowing it ; he has no eyes to see its 
flames, but its inhabitants are gazing upon him ; his 
place in it is fixed beyond dispute ; — unless his Maker 
interfere in some extraordinary way, he is doomed. 

Yet his intellect does not stay its growth, because 
he is the slave of sin. It opens ; time passes ; he 
learns perhaps various things ; he may have good 
abilities, and be taught to cultivate them. He may 
have engaging manners ; anyhow he is light-hearted 
and merry, as boys are. He is gradually educated for 
the world; he forms his own judgments; chooses his 
principles, and is moulded to a certain character. That 
character may be more, or it may be less amiable ; it 
may have much or little of natural virtue : it matters- 
not — the mischief is within ; it is done, and it spreads. 
The devil is unloosed and abroad in him. For a while 



the Motive of the Preacher. 1 1 

he used some sort of prayers, but he has left them off; 
they were but a form, aud he had no heart for them ; 
why should he continue them? and what was the use 
of them ? and what the obligation ? So he has rea- 
soned ; and he has acted upon his reasoning, and 
ceased to pray. Perhaps this was his first sin, that 
original mortal sin, which threw him out of grace — 
a disbelief in the power of prayer. As a child, he 
refused to pray, and argued that he was too old to 
pray, aud that his parents did not pray. He gave 
prayer up, and in came the devil, and took possession 
of him, and made himself at home, and revelled in 
his heart. 

Poor child ! Every day adds fresh and fresh mortal 
sins to his account ; the pleadings of grace have less 
and less effect upon him ; he breathes the breath of 
evil, and day by day becomes more fatally corrupted. 
He has cast off the thought of God, and set up self in 
His place. He has rejected the traditions of religion 
which float about him, and has chosen instead the 
more congenial traditions of the world, to be the guide 
of his life. He is confident in his own views, and 
does not suspect that evil is before him, and in his 
path. He learns to scoff at serious men and serious 
tilings, catches at any story circulated against them, 
and speaks positively when he has no means of 
judging or knowing. The less he believes of revealed 
doctrine, the wiser he thinks himself to be. Or, if his 
natural temper keeps him from becoming hard-hearted, 
still from easiness and from imitation he joins in 
mockery of holy persons and holy things, as far as 



12 The Salvation of the Hearer 

they come across him. He is sharp and ready, and 
humorous, and employs these talents in the cause of 
Satan. He has a secret antipathy to religious truths 
and religious doings, a disgust which he is scarcely 
aware of, and could not explain, if he were. So was 
it with Cain, the eldest born of Adam, who went on to 
murder his brother, because his works were just. So 
was it with those poor boys at Bethel who mocked the 
great prophet Eliseus, crying out, Go up, thou bald 
head ! Anything serves the purpose of a scoff and 
taunt to the natural man, when irritated by the sight 
of religion. 

my brethren, I might go on to mention those 
other more loathsome and more hidden wickednesses 
which germinate and propagate within him, as time 
proceeds, and life opens on him. Alas ! who shall 
sound the depths of that evil whose wages is death ? 
what a dreadful sight to look on, is this fallen 
world, specious and fair outside, plausible in its pro- 
fessions, ashamed of its own sins and hiding them, 
yet a mass of corruption under the surface ! Ashamed 
of its sins, yet not confessing to itself that they are 
sins, but defending them if conscience upbraids, and 
perhaps boldly saying, or at least implying, that, if an 
impulse be allowable in itself, it must be always right 
in an individual, nay, that self-gratification is its own 
warrant, and that temptation is the voice of God. 
Why should I attempt to analyse the intermingling 
influences, or to describe the combined power, of pride 
and lust, — lust exploring a way to evil, and pride 
fortifying the road, — till the first elementary truths 



the Motive of the Preacher. 1 3 

of Eevelatioii are looked iipou as mere nursery tales ? 
No, I have intended nothing more than to put 
wretched nature upon its course, as I may call it, and 
there to leave it, my brethren, to your reflections, to 
that individual comment which each of you may be 
able to put on this faint delineation, realizing in 
your own mind and your own conscience what no 
words can duly set forth. 

His secular course proceeds : the boy has become a 
man ; he has taken up a profession or a trade ; he has 
fair success in it ; he marries, as his father did before 
him. He plays his part in the scene of mortal life ; 
his connexions extend as he gets older : whether in a 
higher or a lower sphere of society, he has his reputa- 
tion and his influence : the reputation and the in- 
fluence of, we will say, a sensible, prudent, and shrewd 
man. His children grow up around him ; middle age 
is over, — his sun declines in the heavens. In the 
balance and by the measure of the world, he is come 
to an honourable and venerable old age ; he has been 
a child of the world, and the world acknowledges and 
praises him. But what is he in the balance of heaven? 
What shall we say of God's judgment of him ? What 
about his soul? — about his soul ? Ah, his soul; he had 
forgotten that ; he had forgotten he had a soul, but it 
remains from first to last in the sight of its Maker. 
Posuisti sccculum nostrum in illuminatione vultils 2hd; 
" Thou hast placed our life in the illumination of Thy 
countenance." Alas ! alas ! about his soul the world 
knows, the world cares, nought; it does not recog- 
nize the soul ; it owns nothiuff in him but an iutel- 



14 The Salvation of the Hearer 

lect manifested in a mortal frame ; it cares for the 
man while he is lure, it loses sight of him when he 
is there,. Still the time is coming when he is leaving 
here, and will find himself there ; he is going out of 
sight, amid the shadows of that unseen world, about 
which the visible world is so sceptical ; so, it concerns 
us who have a belief in that unseen world, to inquire, 
" How fares it all this while with his soul ? " Alas ! 
he has had pleasures and satisfactions in life, he has, 
I say, a good name among men ; he sobered his views 
as life went on, and he began to think that order and 
religion were good things, that a certain deference 
was to be paid to the religion of his country, and a 
certain attendance to be given to its public worship ; 
but he is still, in our Lord's words, nothing else but a 
whited sepulchre; he is foul within with the bones of 
the dead and all uncleanness. All the sins of his youth, 
never repented of, never really put away, his old pro- 
fanenesses,his impurities, his animosities,his idolatries, 
are rotting with him ; only covered over and hidden 
by successive layers of newer and later sins. His 
heart is the home of darkness, it has been handled, 
defiled, possessed by evil spirits ; he is a being with- 
out faith, and without hope ; if he holds anything for 
truth, it is only as an opinion, and if he has a sort of 
calmness and peace, it is the calmness, not of heaven, 
but of decay and dissolution. And now his old enemy 
has thrust aside his good Angel, and is sitting near 
him ; rejoicing in his victory, and patiently waiting 
for his prey ; not tempting him to fresh sins lest they 
should disturb his conscience, but simply letting well 



the Motive of the Preacher. 1 5 

alone ; letting him amuse himself with shadows of 
faith, shadows of piety, shadows of worship ; aiding 
him readily in dressing himself up in some form of 
religion which may satisfy the weakness of his declin- 
ing age, as knowing well that he cannot last long, 
that his death is a matter of time, and that he shall 
soon be able to carry him down with hira to his fiery 
dwelling. 

how awful ! and at last the inevitable hour is 
come. He dies — he dies quietly — his friends are 
satisfied about him. They return thanks that God 
has taken him, has released him from the troubles of 
life and the pains of sickness ; " a good father," they 
say, "a good neighbour," "sincerely lamented," 
"lamented by a large circle of friends." Perhaps 
they add, " dying with a firm trust in the mercy of 
God ; " — nay, he has need of something beyond mercy, 
he has need of some attribute which is inconsistent 
with perfection, and which is not, cannot be, in 
the All-glorious, All-holy God ; — " with a trust," for- 
sooth, " in the promises of the Gospel," which never 
were his, or were early forfeited. And then, as time 
travels on, every now and then is heard some passing 
remembrance of him, respectful or tender ; but he all 
the while (in spite of this false world, and though its 
children will not have it so, and exclaim, and protest, 
and are indignant when so solemn a truth is hinted 
at), he is lifting up his eyes, being in torment, and 
lies " buried in hell." 

Such is the history of a man in a state of nature, or 
in a state of defection, to whom the Gospel has never 



i6 The Salvation of the Hearer 

been a reality, in whom the good seed has never taken 
root, on whom God's grace has been shed in vain, with 
whom it has never prevailed so far as to make him 
seek His face and to ask for those higher gifts which 
lead to heaven. Such is his dark record. But I have 
spoken of only one man : alas ! my dear brethren, it 
is the record of thousands ; it is, in one shape or other, 
the record of all the children of the world. " As soon 
as they are born," the wise man says, " they forthwith 
have ceased to be, and they are powerless to show any 
sign of virtue, and are wasted away in their wicked- 
ness." They may be rich or poor, learned or ignorant, 
polished or rude, decent outwardly and self -disci- 
plined, or scandalous in their lives, — but at bottom they 
are all one and the same ; they have not faith, they 
have not love ; they are impure, they are proud ; they 
all agree together very well, both in opinions and in 
conduct ; they see that they agree ; and this agreement 
they take as a proof that their conduct is right and 
their opinions true. Such as is the tree, such is the 
fruit ; no wonder the fruit is the same in all when it 
comes of the same root of unregenerate, unrenewed 
nature ; but they consider it good and wholesome, 
because it is matured in so many ; and they chase 
away, as odious, unbearable, and horrible, the pure 
and heavenly doctrine of Eevelation, because it is so 
severe upon themselves. No one likes bad news, no 
one welcomes what condemns him ; the world slanders 
the Truth in self-defence, because the Truth denounces 
the world. 

My brethren, if these things be so, or rather (for 



the Motive of the Preacher. 1 7 

this is the point here), if we, Catholics, firmly believe 
them to be so, so firmly believe them, that we feel it 
would be happy for us to die rather than doubt them, 
is it wonderful, does it require any abstruse explana- 
tion, that men minded as we are should come into the 
midst of a population such as this, and into a neigh- 
bourhood where religious error has sway, and where 
corruption of life prevails both as its cause and as its 
consequence ; — a population, not worse indeed than 
the rest of the world, but not better ; not better, 
because it has not with it the gift of Catholic truth ; 
not purer, because it has not within it that gift of 
grace which alone can destroy impurity ; a population, 
sinful, I am certain, given to unlawful indulgences, 
laden with guilt and exposed to eternal ruin, because 
it is not blessed with that Presence of the "Word 
Incarnate, which diffuses sweetness, and tranquillity, 
and chastity over the heart ; — is it a thing to be 
marvelled at, that we begin to preach to such a 
population as this, for which Christ died, and try to 
convert it to Him and to His Church ? Is it necessary 
to ask for reasons ? is it necessary to assign motives 
of this world, for a proceeding which is so natural in 
those who believe in the announcements and require- 
ments of the other ? My dear brethren, if we are sure 
that the Most Holy Eedeemer has shed His blood 
for all men, is it not a very plain and simple conse- 
quence that we, His servants, His brethren, His priests, 
should be unwilling to see that blood shed in vain, — 
wasted I may say, as regards you, and should wish 
to make you partakers of those benefits which have 



1 8 The Salvation of the Hearer 

been vouchsafed to ourselves ? Is it necessary for any 
by-stander to call us vain-glorious, or ambitious, or 
restless, greedy of authority, fond of power, resentful, 
party-spirited, or the like, when here is so much more 
powerful, more present, more influential a motive to 
which our eagerness and zeal may be ascribed ? What 
is so powerful an incentive to preaching as the sure 
belief that it is the preaching of the truth ? What so 
constrains to the conversion of souls, as the conscious- 
ness that they are at present in guilt and in peril ? 
What so great a persuasive to bring men into the 
Church, as the conviction that it is the special means 
by which God effects the salvation of those whom the 
world trains in sin and unbelief ? Only admit us to 
believe what we profess, and surely that is not asking 
a great deal (for what have we done that we should be 
distrusted ?) — only admit us to believe what we pro- 
fess, and you will understand without difficulty what 
we are doing. We come among you, because we 
believe there is but one way of salvation, marked out 
from the beginning, and that you are not walking 
along it ; we come among you as ministers of that 
extraordinary grace of God, which you need ; we come 
among you because we have received a great gift from 
God ourselves, and wish you to be partakers of our joy; 
because it is written, " Freely ye have received, freely 
give ; " because we dare not hide in a napkin those 
mercies, and that grace of God, which have been given 
us, not for our own sake only, but for the benefit of 
others. 

Such a zeal, poor and feeble though it be in us, has 



the Motive of the Preacher. 19 

been the very life of the Church, and the breath of her 
preachers and missionaries in all ages. It was a fire 
such as this which brought our Lord from heaven, and 
which He desired, which He travailed, to communicate 
to all around Him. " I am come to send fire on the 
earth," He says, " and what will I, but that it be 
kindled ? " Such, too, was the feeling of the great 
Apostle to whom his Lord appeared in order to impart 
to him this fire. " I send thee to the Gentiles," He 
had said to him on his conversion, " to open their 
eyes, that they may be converted from darkness to 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God." And, 
accordingly, he at once began to preach to them, that 
they should do penance, and turn to God with worthy 
fruits of penance, " for," as he says, " the charity of 
Christ constrained him," and he was " made all things 
to all that he might save all," and he " bore all for 
the elect's sake, that they might obtain the salvation 
which is in Christ Jesus, with heavenly glory." 
Such, too, was the fire of zeal which burned within 
those preachers, to whom %ve English owe our Chris- 
tianity. What brought them from Eome to this 
distant isle and to a barbarous people, amid many 
fears, and with much sufiering, but the sovereign un- 
controllable desire to save the perishing, and toknit the 
members and slaves of Satan into the body of Christ ? 
This has been the secret of the propagation of the 
Church from the very first, and will be to the end ; 
this is why the Church, under the grace of God, to the 
surprise of the world, converts the nations, and why 
no sect can do the like ; this is why Catholic mission- 



20 The Salvation of the Hearer 

aries throw themselves so generously among the 
fiercest savages, and risk the most cruel torments, as 
knowing the worth of the soul, as realizing the world 
to come, as loving their brethren dearly, though they 
never saw them, as shuddering at the thought of the 
eternal woe, and as desiring to increase the fruit of 
their Lord's passion, and the triumphs of His grace. 

"We, my brethren, are not worthy to be named in 
connexion with Evangelists, Saints, and Martyrs ; 
we come to you in a peaceable time and in a well- 
ordered state of society, and recommended by that 
secret awe and reverence, which, say what they will. 
Englishmen for the most part, or in good part, feel 
for that Religion of their fathers, which has left in 
the land so many memorials of its former sway. It 
requires no great zeal in us, no great charity, to 
come to you at no risk, and entreat you to turn from 
the path of death, and be saved. It requires nothing 
great, nothing heroic, nothing saint-like ; it does but 
require conviction, and that we have, that the Catholic 
Religion is given from God for the salvation of man- 
kind, and that all other religions are but mockeries ; 
it requires nothing more than faith, a single purpose, 
an honest heart, and a distinct utterance. We come 
to you in the name of God ; we ask no more of you 
than that you would listen to us ; we ask no more 
than that you would judge for yourselves whether or 
not we speak God's words ; it shall rest with you 
whether we be God's priests and prophets or no. This 
is not much to ask, but it is more than most men 
will grant ; they do not dare listen to us, they are 



the Motive of the Preacher. 2 1 

impatient through prejudice, or they dread conviction. 
Yes ! many a one there is, who has even good reason 
to listen to us, nay, on whom we have a claim to be 
heard, who ought to have a certain trust in us, who 
yet shuts his ears, and turns away, and chooses to 
hazard eternity without weighing what we have to 
say. How frightful is this ! but you are not, you 
cannot be such ; we ask not your confidence, my 
brethren, for you have never known us : we are not 
asking you to take for granted what we say, for we 
are strangers to you ; we do but simply bid you first 
to consider that you have souls to be saved, and next 
to judge for yourselves, whether, if God has revealed 
a religion of His own whereby to save those souls, 
that religion can be any other than the faith which 
we preach. 



DISCOURSE II. 

NEGLECT OF DIVINE CALLS AND WARNINGS. 

"VrO one sins without making some excuse to himself 
^^ for sinning. He is obliged to do so : man is not 
like the brute beasts ; he has a divine gift within him 
which we call reason, and which constrains him to 
account before its judgment-seat for what he does. 
He cannot act at random; however he acts, he must 
act by some kind of rule, on some sort of principle, 
else he is vexed and dissatisfied with himself. Not 
that he is very particular whether he finds a good 
reason or a bad, when he is very much straitened for 
a reason ; but a reason of some sort he must have. 
Hence you sometimes find those who give up religious 
duty altogether, attacking the conduct of religious 
men, whether their acquaintance, or the ministers or 
professors of religion, as a sort of excuse — a very bad 
one — for their neglect. Others will make the excuse 
that they are so far from church, or so closely occupied 
at home, whether they will or not, that they cannot 
serve God as they ought. Others say that it is no use 
trying to do so, that they have again and again gone 
to confession and tried to keep out of mortal sin, and 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 23 

cannot ; and so they give up the attempt as hopeless. 
Others, when they fall into sin, excuse themselves on 
the plea that they are but following nature ; that the 
impulses of nature are so very strong, and that it 
cannot be wrong to follow that nature which God has 
given us. Others are bolder still, and they cast off 
religion altogether : they deny its truth ; they deny 
Church, Gospel, and Bible ; they go so far perhaps 
as even to deny God's governance of His creatures. 
They boldly deny that there is any life after death : 
and, this being the case, of course they would be fools 
indeed not to take their pleasure here, and to make as 
much of this poor life as they can. 

And there are others, and to these I am going to 
address myself, who try to speak peace to themselves 
by cherishing the thought that something or other 
will happen after all to keep them from eternal ruin, 
though they now continue in their neglect of God ; 
that it is a long time yet to death ; that there are 
many chances in their favour ; that they shall repent 
in process of time when they get old, as a matter of 
course; that they mean to repent some day; that they 
mean, sooner or later, seriously to take their state 
into account, and to make their ground good ; and, if 
they are Catholics, they add, that they will take care 
to die with the last Sacraments, and that therefore 
they need not trouble themselves about the matter. 

Now these persons, my brethren, tempt God ; they 
try Him, how far His goodness will go ; and, it may 
be, they will try Him too long, and will have expe- 
rience, not of His gracious forgiveness, but of His 



24 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

severity and His justice. In this spirit it was that 
the Israelites in the desert conducted themselves to- 
wards Almighty God : instead of feeling awe of Him, 
they were free with Him, treated Him familiarly, made 
excuses, preferred complaints, upbraided Him ; as if 
the Eternal God had been a weak man, as if He had 
been their minister and servant ; in consequence, we 
are told by the inspired historian, " The Lord sent 
among the people fiery serpents." To this St. Paul 
refers when he says, " Neither let us tempt Christ, as 
some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents;" 
a warning to us now, that those who are forward and 
bold with their Almighty Saviour, will gain, not the 
pardon which they look for, but will find themselves 
within the folds of the old serpent, will drink in his 
poisonous breath, and at length will die under his 
fangs. That seducing spirit appeared in person to our 
Lord in the days of His flesh, and tried to entangle 
Him, the Son of the Highest, in this very sin. He 
placed Him on the pinnacle of the Temple, and said 
to Him, " If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself 
down, for it is written, He has given His Angels 
charge of Thee, and in their hands they shall lift Thee, 
lest perchance Thou strike Thy foot against a stone;" 
but our Lord's answer was, " It is also written, Thou 
shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." And so num- 
bers are tempted now to cast themselves headlong 
down the precipice of sin, assuring themselves the 
while that they will never reach the hell which lies at 
the bottom, never dash upon its sharp rocks, or be 
plunged into its flames ; for Angels and Saints are 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 25 

there, in their extremity, in their final need, — or at 
least, God's general mercies, or His particular pro- 
mises, — to interpose and bear them away safely. Such 
is the sin of these men, my brethren, of which I am 
going to speak ; not the sin of unbelief, or of pride, 
or of despair, but of presumption. 

I will state more distinctly the kind of thoughts 
which go through their minds, and which quiet and 
satisfy them in their course of irreligion. They say to 
themselves, " I cannot give up sin now ; I cannot 
give up this or that indulgence ; I cannot break 
myself of this habit of intemperance ; I cannot do 
without these unlawful gains ; I cannot leave these 
employers or superiors, who keep me from following my 
conscience. It is impossible I should serve God now ; 
and I have no leisure to look into myself ; and I do 
not feel the wish to repent ; I have no heart for reli- 
gion. But it will come easier by-and-by ; it will be 
as natural then to repent and be religious, as it is now 
natural to sin. I shall then have fewer temptations, 
fewer difficulties. Old people are sometimes indeed 
reprobates, but, generally speaking, they are religious ; 
they are religious almost as a matter of course ; they 
may curse and swear a little, and tell lies, and do 
such-like little things ; but still they are clear of 
mortal sin, and would be safe if they were suddenly 
taken off." And when some particular temptation 
comes on them, they think, " It is only one sin, and 
once in a way ; I never did the like before, and never 
will again while I live ;" or, " I have done as bad 
before now, and it is only one sin more, and I shall 



26 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

have to repent any how ; and while I am about it, it 
will be as easy to repent of one sin more as of one less, 
for I shall have to repent of all sin ; " or again, " If 
I perish, I shall not want company; — what will 
happen to this person or that ? I am quite a Saint 
compared with such a one ; and I have known men 
repent, who have done much worse things than I have 
done." 

Now, my dear brethren, those who make such ex- 
cuses to themselves, know neither what sin is in its 
own nature, nor what their own sins are in particular; 
they understand neither the heinousness nor the mul- 
titude of their sins. It is necessary, then, to state 
distinctly one or two points of Catholic doctrine, which 
will serve to put this matter in a clearer view than men 
are accustomed to take of it. These truths are very 
simple and very obvious, but are quite forgotten by the 
persons of whom I have been speaking, or they would 
never be able to satisfy their reason and their conscience 
by such frivolous pleas and excuses, as those which I 
have been drawing out. 

First then observe, that when a person says, " I 
have sinned as badly before now," or, " This is only 
one sin more," or, " I must repent any how, and then 
will repent once for all," and the like, he forgets that 
all his sins are in God's hand and in one page of the 
book of judgment, and already added up against him, 
according as each is committed, up to the last of them ; 
that the sin he is now committing is not a mere single, 
isolated sin, but that it is one of a series, of a long cata- 
logue ; that though it be but one, it is not sin one, or 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 27 

sin two, or sin three in the list, but it is the thousandth, 
the ten thousandth, or the hundred thousandth, in a 
long course of sinning. It is not the first of his sins, 
but the last, and perhaps the very last and finishing 
sin. He himself forgets, manages to forget, or tries to 
forget, wishes to forget, all his antecedent sins, or 
remembers them merely as instances of his having 
sinned with impunity before, and proofs that he may 
sin with impunity still. But every sin has a history : 
it is not an accident ; it is the fruit of former sins in 
thought or in deed ; it is the token of a habit deeply 
seated and widely spread ; it is the aggravation of a 
virulent disease ; and, as the last straw is said to break 
the horse's back, so our last sin, whatever it is, is that 
which destroys our hope, and forfeits our place in 
heaven. Therefore, my brethren, it is but the craft of 
the devil, which makes you take your sins one by one, 
while God views them as a whole. " Signasti, quasi 
in saccule, delicta mea," says holy Job, " Thou hast 
sealed up my sins as in a bag," and one day they will 
all be counted out. Separate sins are like the touches 
and strokes which the painter gives, first one and then 
another, to the picture on his canvas ; or like the 
stones which the mason piles up and cements together 
for the house he is building. They are all connected 
together ; they tend to a whole ; they look towards 
an end, and they hasten on to their fulfilment. 

Go, commit this sin, my brethren, to which you are 
tempted, which you persist in viewing in itself alone, 
look on it as Eve looked on the forbidden fruit, dwell 
upon its lightness and insignificance ; and perhaps 



28 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

you may find it after all to be just the coping-stone 
of your high tower of rebellion, which comes into re- 
membrance before God, and fills up the measure of 
your iniquities. " Fill ye up," says our Lord to the 
hypocritical Pharisees, " the measure of your fathers." 
The wrath, which came on Jerusalem, was not simply 
caused by the sins of that day, in which Christ came, 
though in that day was committed the most awful of 
all sins, viz.. His rejection ; for that was but the 
crowning sin of a long course of rebellion. So again, 
in an earlier age, the age of Abraham, ere the chosen 
people had got possession of the land of promise, 
there was already great and heinous sin among the 
heathen who inhabited it, yet they were not put out 
at once, and Abraham brought in ; — why ? because 
God's mercies were not yet exhausted towards them. 
He still bestowed His grace on the abandoned people, 
and waited for their repentance. But He foresaw 
that He should wait in vain, and that the time of 
vengeance would come ; and this He implied when He 
said, that He did not give the chosen seed the land at 
once, " for as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites were 
not at the full." But they did come to the full some 
hundred years afterwards, and then the Israelites were 
brought in, with the command to destroy them utterly 
with the sword. And again, you know the history of 
the impious Baltassar. In his proud feast, when he 
was now filled with wine, he sent for the gold and 
silver vessels which belonged to the Temple at Jeru- 
salem, and had been brought to Babylon on the 
taking of the holy city, — he sent for these sacred 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 29 

vessels, that out of them he might drink more wine^ 
he, his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. In 
that hour, the fingers as of a man's hand were seen 
upon the wall of the banqueting-room, writing the 
(loom of the king and of his kingdom. The worda 
were these : " God hath numbered thy kingdom, and 
hath finished it : thou art weighed in the balance^ 
and art found wanting." That wretched prince had 
kept no account of his sins ; as a spendthrift keeps no 
account of his debts, so he went on day after day and 
year after year, revelling in pride, cruelty, and sensual 
indulgence, and insulting his Master, till at length 
he exhausted the Divine Mercy, and filled up the 
chalice of wratli. His hour came : one more sin he 
did, and the cup overflowed ; vengeance overtook him 
on the instant, and he was cut off from the earth. 

And that last sin need not be a great sin, need not 
be greater than those which have gone before it ; 
perhaps it may be less. There was a rich man, men- 
tioned by our Lord, who, when his crops were plenti- 
ful, said within himself, " What shall I do, for I have 
not where to bestow my fruits ? I will pull down 
my barns, and build greater ; and I will say to my soul, 
Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; 
take thy rest, eat, drink, make good cheer." He was 
carried off that very night. This was not a very 
striking sin, and surely it was not his first great sin ; 
it was the last instance of a long course of acts of 
self-sufficiency and forgetfulness of God, not greater 
in intensity than any before it, but completing their 
number. And' so again, when the father of that. 



30 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

impious king, whom I just now spoke of, when 
Nabuchodonosor had for a whole year neglected the 
warning of the prophet Daniel, calling him to turn 
from his pride and to repent, one day as he walked in 
the palace of Babylon, he said, " Is not this great 
Babylon, which I have built for the home of the 
kingdom, in the strength of my power and in the 
glory of my excellence ? " and forthwith, while the 
word was yet in his mouth, judgment came upon him, 
and he was smitten with a new and strange disease, 
so that he was driven from men, and ate hay like the 
ox, and grew wild in his appearance, and lived in the 
open field. His consummating act of pride was not 
greater, perhaps, than any one of those which through 
the twelvemonth had preceded it. 

No ; you cannot decide, my brethren, whether you 
are outrunning God's mercy, merely because the sin 
you now commit seems to be a small one ; it is not 
always the greatest sin that is the last. Moreover you 
cannot calculate, which is to be your last sin, by the 
particular number of those which have gone before it, 
even if you could count them, for the number varies 
in different persons. This is another very serious 
circumstance. You may have committed but one or 
two sins, and yet find that you are ruined beyond 
redemption, though others who have done more are 
not. Why we know not, but God, who shows mercy 
and gives grace to all, shows greater mercy and gives 
more abundant grace to one man than another. To 
all He gives grace sufficient for their salvation ; to all 
He gives far more than they have any right to 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 3 1 

expect, and they can claim nothing ; but to some 
He gives far more than to others. He tells us Him- 
self, that, if the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon had 
seen the miracles done in Chorazin, they would have 
done penance and turned to Him. That is, there was 
that which would have converted them, and it was not 
granted to them. Till we set this before ourselves, we 
have not a right view either of sin in itself, or of our 
own prospects if we live in it. As God determines 
for each the measure of his stature, and the com- 
plexion of his mind, and the number of his days, yet 
not the same for all ; as one child of Adam is pre- 
ordained to live one day, and another eighty years, so 
is it fixed that one should be reserved for his eightieth 
sin, another cut off after his first. Why this is, we 
know not ; but it is parallel to what is done in human 
matters without exciting any surprise. Of two con- 
victed offenders one is pardoned, one is left to suffer ; 
and this might be done in a case where there was 
nothing to choose between the guilt of the one and of 
the other, and where the reasons which determine the 
difference of dealing towards the one and the other, 
whatever they are, are external to the individuals 
themselres. In like manner you have heard, I dare- 
say, of decimating rebels, when they had been cap- 
tured, that is, of executing every tenth and letting off 
the rest. So it is also with God's judgments, though 
we cannot sound the reasons of them. He is not 
bound to let off any ; He has the power to condemn 
all : I only bring this to show how our rule of justice 
here below does not preclude a difference of dealing 



32 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

with one man and with another. The Creator gives 
one man time for repentance, He carries off another 
by sudden death. He allows one man to die with the 
last Sacraments ; another dies without a Priest to re- 
ceive his imperfect contrition, and to absolve him ; 
the one is pardoned, and will go to heaven ; the other 
goes to the place of eternal punishment. No one can 
say how it will happen in his own case ; no one can 
promise himself that he shall have" time for repen- 
tance ; or, if he have time, that he shall have any 
supernatural movement of the heart towards God ; or, 
even then, that a Priest will be at hand to give him 
absolution. We may have sinned less than our next- 
door neighbour, yet that neighbour may be reserved 
for repentance and may reign with Christ, while we 
may be punished with the evil spirit. 

Nay, some have been cut off and sent to hell for 
their first sin. This was the case, as divines teach, 
as regards the rebel Angels. For their first sin, and 
that a sin of thought, a single perfected act of pride, 
they lost their first estate, and became devils. And 
Saints and holy people record instances of men, and 
even children, who in like manner have uttered a 
first blasphemy or other deliberate sin, and were cut 
off without remedy. And a number of similar in- 
stances occur in Scripture ; I mean of the awful 
punishment of a single sin, without respect to the 
virtue and general excellence of the sinner. Adam, 
for a single sin, small in appearance, the eating of 
the forbidden fruit, lost Paradise, and implicated all- 
his posterity in his own ruin. The Bethsamites were 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 33 

irreverent towards the ark of the Lord, and more than, 
fifty thousand of them in consequence were smitten. 
Oza touched it with his hand, as if to save it from fall- 
ing, and he was struck dead on the spot for his rash- 
ness. The man of God from Juda ate bread and drank 
water at Bethel, against the command of God, and he 
was forthwith killed by a lion on his return. Ananias 
and Sapphira told one lie, and fell down dead almost 
as the words left their mouth. Who are we, that 
God should wait for our repentance any longer, when 
He has not waited at all, before He cut off those who 
sinned less than we ? 

my dear brethren, these presumptuous thoughts 
of ours arise from a defective notion of the malignity 
of sin viewed in itself. We are criminals, and we 
are no judges in our own case. We are fond of our- 
selves, and we take our own part, and we are familiar 
with sin, and, from pride, we do not like to confess 
ourselves lost. For all these reasons, we have no real 
idea wliat sin is, what its punishment is, and what 
grace is. We do not know what sin is, because 
we do not know what God is ; we have no standard 
with which to compare it, till we know what God is. 
Only God's glories. His perfections, His holiness. 
His Majesty, His beauty, can teach us by the contrast 
how to think of sin ; and since we do not see God 
here, till we see Him, we cannot form a just judgment 
what sin is ; till we enter heaven, we must take what 
God tells us of sin, mainly on faith. Nay, even then, 
we shall be able to condenm sin, only so far as we are 
able to see and praise and glorify God ; He alone can 
3 



34 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

duly judge of sin who can comprehend God ; He only 
judged of sin according to the fulness of its evil, who, 
knowing the Father from eternity with a perfect 
knowledge, showed what He thought of sin by dying 
for it ; He only, who was willing, though He was 
God, to suffer inconceivable pains of soul and body in 
order to make a satisfaction for it. Take His word, or 
rather. His deed, for the truth of this awful doctrine, 
— that a single mortal sin is enough to cut you off 
from God for ever. Go down to the grave with a 
single unrepented, unforgiven sin upon you, and you 
have enough to sink you down to hell ; you have that, 
which to a certainty will be your ruin. It may be 
the hundredth sin, or it may be the first sin, no 
matter : one is enough to sink you ; though the more 
you have, the deeper you will sink. You need not 
have your fill of sin in order to perish without 
remedy ; there are those who lose both this world and 
the next ; they choose rebellion, and receive, not its 
gains, but death. 

Or grant, that God's anger delays its course, and 
you have time to add sin to sin, this is only to in- 
crease the punishment when it comes. God is terrible, 
when He speaks to the sinner ; He is more terrible, 
when He refrains ; He is more terrible, when He is 
silent and accumulates wrath. Alas ! there are those 
who are allowed to spend a long life, and a happy 
life, in neglect of Him, and have nothing in the out- 
ward course of things to remind them of what is 
coming, till their irreversible sentence bursts upon 
them. As the stream flows smoothly before the 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 35 

cataract, so with these persons does life pass along 
swiftly and silently, serenely and joyously. " They 
are not in the labour ^of men, neither shall they be 
scourged like other men." " They are filled with 
hidden things; they are full of children, and leave what 
remains of them to their little ones." " Their houses 
are secure and at peace, neither is the rod of God 
upon them. Their little ones go out like a flock, and 
their children dance and play. They take the timbrel 
and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. 
They spend their days in good, and in a moment they 
go down to hell." So was it with Jerusalem, when 
God had deserted it ; it seemed never so prosperous 
before. Herod the king had lately rebuilt the Temple; 
and the marbles with which it was cased were w^onder- 
ful for size and beauty, and it rose bright and glitter- 
ing in the morning sun. The disciples called their 
Lord to look at it, but He did but see in it the whited 
sepulchre of a reprobate people, and foretold its over- 
throw. " See ye all these things ? " He answered 
them, " Amen, I say to you, stone shall not be here 
left upon stone, which shall not be thrown down." 
And " He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying. 
If thou hadst known, even thou, and in this thy day, 
the things that are for thy peace, but now they are 
hidden from thine eyes ! " Hid, indeed, was her 
doom ; for millions crowded within the guilty city at 
her yearly festival, and her end seemed a long way 
off, and ruin to belong to a far future age, when it 
was at the door. 

the change, my brethren, the dismal change at 



36 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

last when the sentence has gone forth, and life ends, 
and eternal death begins ' The poor sinner has gone 
on so long in sin, that he has forgotten he has sin to 
repent of. He has learned to forget that he is living 
in a state of enmity to God. He no longer makes 
excuses, as he did at first. He lives in the world, and 
believes nothing about the Sacraments, nor puts any 
trust in a Priest if he falls in with one. Perhaps he 
has hardly ever heard the Catholic religion mentioned 
except for the purpose of abuse ; and never has spoken 
of it, but to ridicule it. His thoughts are taken up 
with his family and with his occupation ; and if he 
thinks of death, it is with repugnance, as what will 
separate him from this world, not with fear, as what 
will introduce him to another. He has ever been 
strong and hale. He has never had an illness. His 
family is long-lived, and he reckons he has a long 
time before him. His friends die before him, and he 
feels rather contempt at their nothingness, than 
sorrow at their departure. He has just married a 
daughter, or established a son in life, and he thinks 
of retiring from his labours, except that he is at a loss 
to know how he shall employ himself when he is out 
of work. He cannot get himself to dwell upon the 
thought of what and where he will be, when life is 
over, or, if he begins to muse awhile over himself and 
his prospects, then he is sure of one thing, that the 
Creator is absolute and mere benevolence, and he is 
indignant and impatient when he hears eternal 
punishment spoken of. And so he fares, whether for 
a long time or a short ; but whatever the period, it 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 37 

must have an end, and at last the end comes. Time 
has gone forward noiselessly, and comes upon him 
like a thief in the night ; at length the hour of 
doom strikes, and he is taken away. 

Perhaps, however, he was a Catholic, and then the 
very mercies of God have been perverted by him to 
his ruin. He has rested on the Sacraments, without 
caring to have the proper dispositions for attend- 
ing them. At one time he had lived in neglect of 
religion altogether ; but there was a date when he 
felt a wish to set himself right with his Maker ; so 
he began, and has continued ever since, to go to Con- 
fession and Communion at convenient intervals. He 
comes again and again to the Priest ; he goes through 
his sins ; the Priest is obliged to take his account of 
them, which is a very defective account, and sees no 
reason for not giving him absolution. He is absolved, 
as far as words can absolve him ; he comes again to the 
Priest when the season comes round ; again he con- 
fesses, and again he has the form pronounced over 
him. He falls sick, he receives the last Sacraments : 
he receives the last rites of the Church, and he is 
lost. He is lost, because he has never really turned 
his heart to God ; or, if he had some poor measure of 
contrition for awhile, it did not last beyond his first 
or second confession. He soon taught himself to come 
to the Sacraments without any contrition at all ; he 
deceived himself, and left out his principal and most 
important sins. Somehow he deceived himself into 
the notion that they were not sins, or not mortal sins ; 
for some reason or other he was silent, and his con- 



2,S Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

fession became as defective as his contrition. Yet 
this scanty show of religion was sufficient to soothe 
and stupefy his conscience : so he went on year after 
year, never making a good confession, communicating 
in mortal sin, till he fell ill ; and then, I say, the 
viaticum and holy oil were brought to him, and he 
committed sacrilege for his last time, — and so he 
went to his God. 

what a moment for the poor soul, when it comes 
to itself, and finds itself suddenly before the judgment- 
seat of Christ ! what a moment, when, breathless 
with the journey, and dizzy with the brightness, and 
overwhelmed with the strangeness of what is happen- 
ing to him, and unable to realize where he is, the 
sinner hears the voice of the accusing spirit, bringing 
up all the sins of his past life, which he has forgotten, 
or which he has explained away, which he would not 
allow to be sins, though he suspected they were ; when 
he hears him detailing all the mercies of God which 
he has despised, all His warnings which he has set at 
nought, all His judgments which he has outlived; 
when that evil one follows out into detail the growth 
and progress of a lost soul, — how it expanded and 
was confirmed in sin, — how it budded forth into leaves 
and flowers, grew into branches, and ripened into fruit, 
— till nothing was wanted for its full condemnation ! 
And, ! still more terrible, still more distracting, 
when the Judge speaks, and consigns it to the jailors, 
till it shall pay the endless debt which lies against it! 
" Impossible, I a lost soul ! I separated from hope 
and from peace for ever ! It is not I of whom the 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 39 

Judge so spake ! There is a mistake somewhere ; 
Christ, Saviour, hold Thy hand, — one minute to ex- 
plain it ! My name is Demas : I am but Demas, not 
Judas, or Mcolas, or Alexander, or Philetus, or 
Diotrephes. What ? hopeless pain ! for me ! impos- 
sible, it shall not be." And the poor soul struggles 
and wrestles in the grasp of the mighty demon wliich 
has hold of it, and whose every touch is torment. " Oh, 
atrocious ! " it shrieks in agony, and in anger too, as 
if the very keenness of the affliction were a proof of 
its injustice. " A second ! and a third ! I can bear no 
more ! stop, horrible fiend, give over ; I am a man, and 
not such as thou ! I am not food for thee, or sport for 
thee ! I never was in hell as thou, I have not on me 
the smell of fire, nor the taint of the charnel-house ! 
I know what human feelings are ; I have been taught 
religion ; I have had a conscience ; I have a culti- 
vated mind ; I am well versed in science and art ; I 
have been refined by literature; I have had an eye for 
the beauties of nature ; I am a philosopher or a poet, 
or a shrewd observer of men, or a hero, or a statesman, 
or an orator, or a man of wit and humour. Nay, — I 
am a Catholic ; I am not an unregenerate Protestant ; 
I have received the grace of theEedeemer; I have 
attended the Sacraments for years ; I have been a 
Catholic from a child ; I am a son of the Martyrs ; 1 
died in communion with the Church : nothing, nothing 
which I have ever been, which I have ever seen, bears 
any resemblance to thee, and to the flame and stench 
which exhale from thee ; so I defy thee, and abjure 
thee, enemy of man ! " 



40 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

Alas! poor soul; and whilst it thus fights with 
that destiny which it has brought upon itself, and 
with those companions whom it has chosen, the man's 
name perhaps is solemnly chanted forth, and his 
memory decently cherished among his friends on 
earth. His readiness in speech, his fertility in thought, 
his sagacity, or his wisdom, are not forgotten. Men 
talk of him from time to time ; they appeal to his 
authority ; they quote his words ; perhaps they even 
raise a monument to his name, or write his history. 
" So comprehensive a mind ! such a power of throwing 
light on a perplexed subject, and bringing conflicting 
ideas or facts into harmony ! " " Such a speech it 
was that he made on such and such an occasion ; I 
happened to be present, and never shall forget it ; " 
or, " It was the saying of a very sensible man ; " or, 
" A great personage, whom some of us knew ;" or, "It 
was a rule with a very worthy and excellent friend of 
mine, now no more ; " or, " Never was his equal in 
society, so just in his remarks, so versatile, so unob- 
trusive ; " or, " I was fortunate to see him once when 
I was a boy ; " or, " So great a benefactor to his 
country and to his kind !" " His discoveries so gxeat ;" 
or, " His philosophy so profound." vanity ! vanity 
of vanities, all is vanity ! "What profiteth it ? What 
profiteth it ? His soul is in hell. ye children of 
men, while thus ye speak, his soul is in the beginning 
of those torments in which his body will soon have 
part, and which will never die. 

Vanity of vanities ! misery of miseries ! they wnll 
not attend to us, they will not believe us. "We are 



Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 41 

but a few in number, and they are many ; and the 
many will not give credit to the few. misery of 
miseries ! Thousands are dying daily ; they are 
waking up into God's everlasting wrath ; they look 
back on the days of the flesh, and call them few and 
evil ; they despise and scorn the very reasonings which 
then they trusted, and which have been disproved by 
the event ; they curse the recklessness which made 
them put off repentance ; they have fallen under His 
justice, whose mercy they presumed upon ; — and their 
companions and friends are going on as they did, and 
are soon to join them. As the last generation pre- 
sumed, so does the present. The father would not 
l^elieve that God could punish, and now the son will 
not believe ; the father was indignant when eternal 
pain was spoken of, and the son gnashes his teeth and 
smiles contemptuously. The world spoke well of 
itself thirty years ago, and so will it thirty years to 
■come. And thus it is that this vast flood of life is 
carried on from age to age ; myriads trifling with 
God's love, tempting His justice, and like the herd 
of swine, falling headlong down the steep ! mighty 
God ! God of love ! it is too much ! it broke the 
heart of Thy sweet Son Jesus to see the misery of man 
spread out before His eyes. He died by it as well as 
for it. And we, too, in our measure, our eyes ache, 
and our hearts sicken, and our heads reel, when we 
but feebly contemplate it. most tender heart of 
Jesus, why wilt Thou not end, when wilt Thou end, 
this ever-growing load of sin and woe ? When wilt 
Thou chase away the devil into his own hell, and close 



42 Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings. 

the pit's mouth, that Thy chosen may rejoice in Thee, 
quitting the thought of those who perish in their 
wilfulness ? But, oh ! by those five dear Wounds in 
Hands, and Feet, and Side — perpetual founts of mercy, 
from which the fulness of the Eternal Trinity flows 
ever fresh, ever powerful, ever bountiful to all who 
seek Thee — if the world must still endure, at least 
gather Thou a larger and a larger harvest, an 
ampler proportion of souls out of it into Thy 
garner, that these latter times may, in sanctity, 
and glory, and the triumphs of Thy grace, exceed the 
former. 

" Deus misereatur nostri, et henedicat nobis ; " 
" God, have mercy on us, and bless us ; and cause 
His face to shine upon us, and have mercy on us ; 
that we may know Thy way upon earth. Thy salvation 
among all the nations. Let the people praise Thee, 
God ; let all the people praise Thee. Let the 
nations be glad, and leap for joy; because Thou 
dost judge the people in equity, and dost direct 
the nations on the earth. God, even our God, bless 
us, may God bless us ; and may all the ends of the 
earth fear Him." 



DISCOURSE III. 

MEN, NOT ANGELS, THE PRIESTS OF THE GOSPEL. 

ITTHEN Christ, the great Prophet, the great 
Preacher, the great Missionary, came into the 
world. He came in a way the most holy, the most 
august, and the most glorious. Though He came in 
humiliation, though He came to suffer, though He 
was born in a stable, though He was laid in a manger, 
yet He issued from the womb of an Immaculate 
iMother, and His infant form shone with heavenly 
light. Sanctity marked every lineament of His charac- 
ter and every circumstance of His mission. Gabriel 
announced His incarnation ; a A^irgin conceived, a 
Virgin bore, a Virgin suckled Him ; His foster-father 
was the pure and saintly Joseph ; Angels proclaimed 
His birth ; a luminous star spread the news among 
the heathen ; the austere Baptist went beforeHis face ; 
and a crowd of shriven penitents, clad in white gar- 
ments and radiant with grace, followed him wherever 
He went. As the sun in heaven shines through the 
clouds, and is reflected in the landscape, so the eternal 
Sun of justice, when He rose upon the earth, turned 



44 Men, not Angels^ 

night into day, and in His brightness made all things 
bright. 

He came and He went ; and, seeing that He came 
to introduce a new and final Dispensation into the 
world, He left behind Him preachers, teachers, and 
missionaries, in His stead. Well then, my brethren, 
you will say, since on His coming all about Him was 
so glorious, such as He was, such must His servants 
be, such His representatives. His ministers, in His 
absence ; as He was without sin, they too must be 
without sin ; as He was the Son of God, they must 
surely be Angels. Angels, you will say, must be 
appointed to this high office ; Angels alone are fit to 
preach the birth, the sufferings, the death of God. 
They might indeed have to hide their brightness, as 
He before them, their Lord and Master, had put on 
a disguise ; they might come, as they came under the 
Old Covenant, in the garb of men ; but still, men they 
could not be, if they were to be preachers of the ever- 
lasting Gospel, and dispensers of its divine mysteries. 
If they were to sacrifice, as He had sacrificed ; to con- 
tinue, repeat, apply, the very Sacrifice which He had 
offered ; to take into their hands that very Victim 
which was He Himself ; to bind and to loose, to bless 
and to ban, to receive the confessions of His people, 
and to give them absolution for their sins ; to teach 
them the way of truth, and to guide them along the 
way of peace ; who was sufficient for these things but 
an inhabitant of those blessed realms of which the 
Lord is the never-failing Light ? 

And yet, my brethren, so it is, He has sent forth 



the Priests of the Gospel. 45 

for the ministry of reconciliation, not Angels, but 
men ; He has sent forth your brethren to you, not 
beings of some unknown nature and some strange 
blood, but of your own bone and your own flesh, to 
preach to you. " Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye 
gazing up into heaven ? " Here is the royal style 
and tone in which Angels speak to men, even though 
these men be Apostles ; it is the tone of those who, 
having never sinned, speak from their lofty eminence 
to those who have. But such is not the tone of those 
whom Christ has sent ; for it is your brethren whom 
He has appointed, and none else, — sons of Adam, 
sons of your nature, the same by nature, differing 
only in grace, — men, like you, exposed to tempta- 
tions, to the same temptations, to the same warfare 
within and without ; with the same three deadly 
enemies — the world, the flesh, and the devil ; witli 
the same human, the same wayward heart : differing 
only as the power of God has changed and rules it. 
So it is ; we are not Angels from Heaven that speak 
to you, but men, whom grace, and grace alone, has- 
made to differ from you. Listen to the Apostle : — 
When the barbarous Lycaonians, seeing his miracle, 
would have sacrificed to him and St. Barnabas, as ta 
gods, he rushed in among them, crying out, " 
men, why do ye this 1 we also are mortals, men like 
unto you ; " or, as the words run more forcibly in 
the original Greek, " We are of like passions with 
you." And again to the Corinthians he writes, " We 
preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord ; and 
ourselves your servants through Jesus. God, wha 



46 Men, not Angels, 

commanded the light to shine out of darkness, He 
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ 
Jesus : Ijut we hold this treasure in earthen vessels." 
And further, he says of himself most wonderfully, 
that, " lest he should be exalted by the greatness of 
the revelations," there was given him " an angel 
of Satan " in his flesh " to buffet him." Such are 
your Ministers, your Preachers, your Priests, my 
brethren ; not Angels, not Saints, not sinless, but 
those who would have lived and died in sin except for 
God's grace, and who, though through God's mercy 
they be in training for the fellowship of Saints here- 
after, yet at present are in the midst of infirmity and 
temptation, and have no hope, except from the un- 
merited grace of God, of persevering unto the end. 

"What a strange, what a striking anomaly is this ! 
All is perfect, all is heavenly, all is glorious, in the 
Dispensation which Christ has vouchsafed us, except 
the persons of His Ministers. He dwells on our 
altars Himself, the Most Holy, the Most High, in 
light inaccessible, and Angels fall down before Him 
there ; and out of visible substances and forms He 
chooses what is choicest to represent and to hold Him. 
The finest wheat-flour, and the purest wine, are taken 
as His outward symbols ; the most sacred and majestic 
words minister to the sacrificial rite; altar and 
sanctuary are adorned decently or splendidly, as our 
means allow ; and the Priests perform their office in 
befitting vestments, lifting up chaste hearts and holy 
hands ; yet those very Priests, so set apart, so conse- 



the Priests of the Gospel. 47 

crated, they, with their girdle of celibacy and their 
maniple of sorrow, are sons of Adam, s^ns of sinners, 
of a fallen nature, which they have not put off, though 
it be renewed through grace, so that it is almost the 
definition of a Priest that he has sins of his own to 
offer for. " Every high Priest," says the Apostle, 
"taken from among men, is appointed for men, in 
the things that appertain unto God, that he may offer 
gifts and sacrifices for sins ; who can condole with 
those who are in ignorance and error, because he also 
himself is compassed with infirmity. And therefore 
he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer 
for sins." And hence in the Mass, when he offers up 
the Host before consecration, he says, Suscipe, Sancic 
Pater, Omnipotens, cctcrm Deus, " Accept, Holy Father, 
Almighty, Everlasting God, this immaculate Host, 
which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer to Thee, my 
Living and True God, for mine innumerable sins, 
offences, and negligences, and for all who stand 
around, and for all faithful Christians, living and 
dead." 

Most strange is this in itself, my brethren, but not 
strange, when you consider it is the appointment of 
an all-merciful God ; not strange in Him, because the 
Apostle gives the reason of it in the passage I. have 
quoted. The priests of the New Law are men, in order 
that they may " condole with those who are in ignor- 
ance and error, because they too are compassed with 
infirmity." Had Angels been your Priests, my 
brethren, they could not have condoled with you, 
sympathized with you, have had compassion on you. 



48 Men, not Angels, 

felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as 
we can ; they could not have been your patterns and 
guides, and have led you on from your old selves into 
a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you, 
Avho have been led on themselves as you are to be led, 
who know well your difficulties, who have had ex- 
perience, at least of your temptations, who know the 
strength of the flesh and the wiles of the devil, even 
though they have baffled them, who are already dis- 
posed to take your part, and be indulgent towards you, 
and can advise you most practically, and warn you 
most seasonably and prudently. Therefore did He send 
you men to be the ministers of reconciliation and in- 
tercession ; as He Himself, though He could not sin, 
yet even He, by becoming man, took on Him, as far as 
was possible to God, man's burden of infirmity and trial 
in His own person. He could not be a sinner, but He 
could be a man, and He took to Himself a man's 
heart that we might entrust our hearts to Him, and 
" was tempted in all things, like as we are, yet 
without sin." 

Ponder this truth well, my brethren, and let it be 
your comfort. Among the Preachers, among the 
Priests of the Gospel, there have been Apostles, there 
have been Martyrs, there have been Doctors ; — Saints 
in plenty among them ; yet out of them all, high as 
has been their sanctity, varied their graces, awful their 
gifts, there has not been one who did not begin with 
the old Adam ; not one of them who was not hewn 
out of the same rock as the most obdurate of repro- 
bates ; not one of them who was not fashioned unto 



the Priests of the Gospel. 49 

honour out of the same clay which has been the 
material of the most polluted and vile of sinners ; 
not one who was not by nature brother of those poor 
souls who have now commenced an eternal fellowship 
with the devil, and are lost in hell. Grace has 
vanquished nature ; that is the whole history of the 
Saints. Salutary thought for those who are tempted 
to pride themselves in what they do, and what they 
are ; wonderful news for those who sorrowfully re- 
cognize in their hearts the vast difference that exists 
between them and the Saints ; and joyful news, when 
men hate sin, and wish to escape from its miserable 
yoke, yet are tempted to think it impossible ! 

Come, my brethren, let us look at this truth more 
narrowly, and lay it to heart. First consider, that, 
since Adam fell, none of his seed but has been con- 
ceived in sin ; none, save one. One exception there 
has been, — who is that one ? not our Lord Jesus, for 
He was not conceived of man, but of the Holy Ghost ; 
not our Lord, but I mean His Virgin Mother, who 
though conceived and born of human parents, as 
others, yet was rescued by anticipation from the com- 
mon condition of mankind, and never was partaker 
in fact of Adam's transgression. She was conceived 
in the way of nature, she was conceived as others are ; 
but grace interfered and was beforehand with sin ; 
grace filled her soul from the first moment of her 
existence, so that the evil one breathed not on her, 
nor stained the work of God. Totapulchra es, Maria ; 
el Tnacula originalis non est in te. " Thou art all fair, 
Mary, and the stain original is not in thee." But 

4 



50 Men, not Angels, 

putting aside the Most Blessed Mother of God, every- 
one else, the most glorious Saint, and the most black 
and odious of sinners, I mean, the soul which, in the 
event, became the most glorious, and the soul which 
became the most devilish, were both born in one and 
the same original sin, both were children of wrath, 
both were unable to attain heaven by their natural 
powers, both had the prospect of meriting for them- 
selves hell. 

They were both born in sin ; they both lay in sin ; 
and the soul, which afterwards became a Saint, would 
have continued in sin, would have sinned wilfully, 
and would have been lost, but for the visitings of an 
unmerited supernatural influence upon it, which did 
for it wdiat it could not do for itself. The poor infant, 
destined to be an heir of glory, lay feeble, sickly, 
fretful, wayward, and miserable ; the child of sorrow ; 
without hope, and without heavenly aid. So it lay 
for many a long and weary day ere it was born ; and 
when at length it opened its eyes and saw the light, it 
shrank back, and wept aloud that it had seen it. But 
God heard its cry from heaven in this valley of tears, 
and He began that course of mercies towards it which 
led it from earth to heaven. He sent His Priest to 
administer to it the first sacrament, and to baptize it 
with His grace. Then a great change took place in it, 
for, instead of its being any more the thrall of Satan 
it forthwith became a child of God ; and had it died 
that minute, and before it came to the age of reason, 
it would have been carried to heaven without delay by 
Angels, and been admitted into the presence of God. 



the Priests of the Gospel, 5 1 

But it did not die ; it came to the age of reason, 
and, 0, shall we dare to say, though in some blessed 
cases it may be said, shall we dare to say, that it did 
not misuse the great talent which had been given to 
it, profane the grace which dwelt in. it, and fall into 
mortal sin ? In some instances, praised be God ! we 
dare affirm it ; such seems to have been the case with 
my own dear father, St. Philip, who surely kept his 
baptismal robe unsullied from the day he was clad in 
it, never lost his state of grace, from the day he was 
put into it, and proceeded from strength to strength, 
and from merit to merit, and from glory to glory, 
through the whole course of his long life, till at the 
age of eighty he was summoned to his account, and 
went joyfully to meet it, and was carried across pur- 
gatory, without any scorching of its flames, straight 
to heaven. 

Such certainly have sometimes been the dealings of 
God's grace with the souls of His elect ; but more 
commonly, as if more intimately to associate them 
with their brethren, and to make the fulness of His 
favours to them a ground of hope and an encourage- 
ment to the penitent sinner, those who have ended in 
being miracles of sanctity, and heroes in the Church, 
have passed a time in wilful disobedience, have thrown 
themselves out of the light of God's countenance, 
have been led captive by this or that sin, by this or 
that religious error, till at length they were in various 
ways recovered, slowly or suddenly, and regained the 
state of grace, or rather a much higher state, than that 
which they had forfeited. Such was the blessed Mag- 



52 Men, not Angels, 

dalen, who had lived a life of shame ; so much so, that 
even to be touched by her was, according to the reli- 
gious judgment of her day, a pollution. Happy in this 
world's goods, young and passionate, she had given 
her heart to the creature, before the grace of God pre- 
vailed with her. Then she cut off her long hair, and 
put aside her gay apparel, and became so utterly what 
she had not been, that, had you known her before and 
after, you had said it was two persons you had seen> 
not one ; for there was no trace of the sinner in the 
penitent, except the affectionate heart, now set on 
heaven and Christ ; no trace besides, no memory of 
that glittering and seductive apparition, in the modest 
form, the serene countenance, the composed gait, and 
the gentle voice of her who in the garden sought and 
found her Eisen Saviour. Such, too, was he who from 
a publican became an Apostle and an Evangelist ; one 
who for filthy lucre scrupled not to enter the service 
of the heathen Eomans, and to oppress his own people. 
Nor were the rest of the Apostles made of better clay 
than the other sons of Adam ; they were by nature 
animal, carnal, ignorant; left to themselves, they 
would, like the brutes, have grovelled on the earth, and 
gazed upon the earth, and fed on the earth, had not 
the grace of God taken possession of them, and set 
them on their feet, and raised their faces heavenward. 
And such was the learned Pharisee, who came to Jesus 
by night, well satisfied with his station, jealous of his 
reputation, confident in his reason ; but the time at 
length came, when, even though disciples fled, he re- 
mained to anoint the abandoned corpse of Him, whom 



the Priests of the Gospel. 53 

when living lie had been ashamed to own. You see 
it was the grace of God that triumphed in Magdalen, 
in Matthew, and in Nicodemus ; heavenly grace came 
down upon corrupt nature ; it subdued impurity in 
the youthful woman, covetousness in the publican, 
fear of man in the Pharisee. 

Let me speak of another celebrated conquest of 
God's grace in an after age, and you will see how it 
pleases Him to make a Confessor, a Saint and Doctor 
of His Church, out of sin and heresy both together. 
It was not enough that the Father of the Western 
Schools, the author of a thousand works, the trium- 
phant controversialist, the especial champion of grace, 
should have been once a poor slave of the flesh, but 
he was the victim of a perverted intellect also. He, 
who of all others, was to extol the grace of God, was 
left more than others to experience the helplessness 
of nature. The great St. Augustine (1 am not speak- 
ing of the holy missionary of the same name, who 
came to England and converted our pagan forefathers, 
and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, but 
of the great African Bishop^ two centuries before him) 
— Augustine, I say, not being in earnest about his 
soul, not asking himself the question, how was sin to 
be washed away, but rather being desirous, while 
youth and strength lasted, to enjoy the flesh and the 
world, ambitious and sensual, judged of truth and 
falsehood by his private judgment and his private 
fancy ; despised the Catholic Church because it spoke 
so umch of faith and subjection, thought to make his 
own reason the measure of all things, and accordingly 



54 Men, not Angels, 

joined a far-spread sect, which affected to be philo- 
sophical and enlightened, to take large views of 
things, and to correct the vulgar, that is the Catho- 
lic notions of God and Christ, of sin, and of the way 
to heaven. In this sect of his he remained for some 
years ; yet what he was taught there did not satisfy 
him. It pleased him for a time, and then he found 
he had been eating as if food what had no nourishment 
in it ; he became hungry and thirsty after something 
more substantial, he knew not what ; he despised him- 
self for being a slave to the flesh, and he found his 
religion did not help him to overcome it ; thus he 
understood that he had not gained the truth, and he 
cried out, " 0, who will tell me where to seek it, and 
who will bring me into it ? " 

Why did he not join the Catholic Church at once ? 
I have told you why ; he saw that truth was nowhere 
else ; but he was not sure it was there. He thought 
there was something mean, narrow, irrational, in her 
system of doctrine ; he lacked the gift of faith. Then 
a great conflict began within him, — the conflict of 
nature with grace ; of nature and her children, the 
flesh and false reason, against conscience and the 
pleadings of the Divine Spirit, leading him to better 
things. Though he was still in a state of perdition, 
yet God was visiting him, and giving him the first 
fruits of those influences which were in the event to 
bring him out of it. Time went on ; and looking at 
him, as his Guardian Angel might look at him, you 
would have said that, in spite of much perverseness, 
and many a successful struggle against his Almighty 



the Priests of the Gospel. 55 

Adversary, in spite of his still being, as before, in a 
state of wrath, nevertheless grace was making way in 
his soul, — he was advancing towards the Church. He 
did not know it himself, he could not recognize it 
himself; but an eager interest in him, and then a 
joy, was springing up in heaven among the Angels of 
God. At last he came within the range of a great 
Saint in a foreign country ; and, though he pretended 
not to acknowledge him, his attention was arrested 
by him, and he could not help coming to sacred 
places to look at him again and again. He began to 
watch him and speculate about him, and wondered 
with himself whether he was happy. He found him- 
self frequently in Church, listening to the holy 
preacher, and he once asked his advice how to find 
what he was seeking. And now a final conflict came 
on him with the flesh : it was hard, very hard, to part 
with the indulgences of years, it was hard to part and 
never to meet again. 0, sin was so sweet, how could 
he bid it farewell ? how could he tear himself away 
from its embrace, and betake himself to that lonely 
and dreary way which led heavenwards ? But God's 
grace was sweeter far, and it convinced him while it 
won him ; it convinced his reason, and prevailed ; — 
and he who without it would have lived and died a 
child of Satan, became, under its wonder-working 
power, an oracle of sanctity and truth. 

And do you not think, my brethren, that he was 
better fitted than another to persuade his brethren as 
he had been persuaded, and to preach the holy doctrine 
which he had despised ? Not that sin is better than 



56 Men^ not Angels, 

obedience, or the sinner than the just; but that God 
in His mercy makes use of sin against itself, that He 
turns past sin into a present benefit, that, while He 
washes away its guilt and subdues its power, He leaves 
it in the penitent in such sense as enables him, from 
his knowledge of its devices, to assault it more vigor- 
ously, and strike at it more truly, when it meets him 
in other men ; that, while our Lord, by His omnipotent 
grace, can make the soul as clean as if it had never 
been unclean, He leaves it in possession of a tenderness 
and compassion for other sinners, an experience how to 
deal with them, greater than if it had never sinned ; 
and again that, in those rare aud special instances, 
of one of which I have been speaking. He holds up to 
us, for our instruction and our comfort, what He can 
do, even for the most guilty, if they sincerely come to 
Him for a pardon and a cure. There is no limit to be 
put to the bounty and power of God's grace ; and that 
we feel sorrow for our sins, and supplicate His mercy, 
is a sort of present pledge to us in, our hearts, that He 
will grant us the good gifts we are seeking. He can 
do what He will with the soul of man. He is infinitely 
more powerful than the foul spirit to whom the sinner 
has sold himself, and can cast him out. 

my dear brethren,though your conscience witnesses 
against you. He can disburden it ; whether you have 
sinned less or whether you have sinned more, He can 
make you as clean in His sight and as acceptable to 
Him as if you had never gone from Him. Gradually 
will He destroy your sinful habits, and at once will He 
restore you to His favour. Such is the power of the 



the Priests of the Gospel. 57 

Sacrament of Penance, that, be your load of guilt 
heavier or be it lighter, it removes it, whatever it is. It 
is as easy to Him to wash out the many sins as the few. 
Do you recollect in the Old Testament the history of 
the cure of Naaman the Syrian, by the prophet Eliseus? 
He had that dreadful, incurable disease called the 
leprosy, which was a white crust upon the skin, making 
the whole person hideous, and typifying the hideous- 
ness of sin. The prophet bade him bathe in the river 
Jordan, and the disease disappeared ; " his flesh," 
says the inspired writer, was " restored to him as the 
flesh of a little child." Here, then, we have a repre- 
sentation not only of what sin is, but of what God's 
grace is. It can undo the past, it can realize the 
hopeless. No sinner, ever so odious, but may become 
a Saint ; no Saint, ever so exalted, but has been, or 
might have been,^ a sinner. Grace overcomes nature, 
and grace only overcomes it. Take that holy child, 
the blessed St. Agnes, who, at the age of thirteen, 
resolved to die rather than deny the faith, and stood 
enveloped in an atmosphere of purity, and difl'used 
around her a heavenly influence, in the very home of 
evil spirits into which the heathen brought her ; or 
consider the angelical Aloysius, of whom it hardly is 
left upon record that he committed even a venial sin ; 
or St. Agatha, St. Juliana, St. Eose, St. Casimir, or St. 
Stanislas, to whom the very notion of any unbecoming 
imagination had been as death ; well, there is not one 
of these seraphic souls but might have been a degraded, 
loathsome leper, except for God's grace, an outcast 
from his kind ; not one but might, or rather would, 



58 Men, not Angels, 

have lived the life of a brute creature, and died the 
death of a reprobate, and lain down in hell eternally 
in the devil's arms, had not God put a new heart and 
a new spirit within him, and made him what he could 
not make himself. 

All good men are not Saints, my brethren — all con- 
verted souls do not become Saints. I will not promise, 
that, if you turn to God, you will reach that height of 
sanctity which the Saints have reached : — true ; still, 
I am showing you that even the Saints are by nature 
no better than you; and so (much more) that the Priests, 
who have the charge of the faithful, whatever be their 
sanctity, are by nature no better than those whom 
they have to convert, whom they have to reform. It 
is God's special mercy towards you that we by nature 
are no other than you ; it is His consideration and 
compassion for you that He has made us, who are your 
brethren. His legates and ministers of reconciliation. 

This is what the world cannot understand ; not that 
it does not apprehend clearly enough that we are by 
nature of like passions with itself ; but what it is so 
blind, so narrow-minded as not to comprehend, is, 
that, being so like itself by nature, we may be made 
so different by grace. Men of the world, my brethren, 
know the power of nature ; they know not, experience 
not, believe not, the power of God's grace ; and since 
they are not themselves acquainted with any power 
that can overcome nature, they think that none exists, 
and therefore, consistently, they believe that every one. 
Priest or not, remains to the end such as nature made 
him, and they will not believe it possible that any one 



the Priests of the Gospel. 59 

can lead a supernatural life. Now, not Priest only, 
but every one who is in the grace of God, leads a 
supernatural life, more or less supernatural, according 
to his calling, and the measure of the gifts given 
him, and his faithfulness to them. This they know 
not, and admit not ; and when they hear of the life 
which a Priest must lead by his profession from youth 
to age, they will not credit that he is what he pro- 
fesses to be. They know nothing of the presence of God, 
the merits of Christ, the intercession of the Blessed 
Virgin ; the virtue of recurring prayers, of frequent 
confession, of daily Masses ; they are strangers to the 
transforming power of the Most Holy Sacrament, the 
Bread of Angels ; they do not contemplate the efficacy 
of salutary rules, of holy companions, of long-enduring 
habit, of ready spontaneous vigilance, of abhorrence 
of sin and indignation at the tempter, to secure 
the soul from evil. They only know that when 
the tempter once has actually penetrated into the 
heart, he is irresistible ; they only know that when 
the soul has exposed and surrendered itself to his 
malice, there is (so to speak) a necessity of sinning. 
They only know that when God has abandoned it, and 
good Angels are withdrawn, and all safeguards, and 
protections, and preventives are neglected, that then 
(which is their own case), when the victory is all but 
gained already, it is sure to be gained altogether. 
They themselves have ever, in their best estate, been 
all but beaten by the Evil One before they began to 
fight ; this is the only state they have experienced 
they know this, and they know nothing else. They 



6o " Men, not Angels, 

have never stood on vantage ground ; they have never 
been within the walls of the strong city, about which 
the enemy prowls in vain, into which he cannot pene- 
trate, and outside of which the faithful soul will be 
too wise to venture. They judge, I say, by their 
experience, and will not believe what they never knew. 
If there be those here present, my dear brethren, 
who will not believe that grace is efiFectual within the 
Church, because it does little outside of it, to them I 
do not speak : I speak to those who do not narrow 
their belief to their experience ; I speak to those who 
admit that grace can make human nature what it is 
not ; and such persons, I think, will feel it, not a 
cause of jealousy and suspicion, but a great gain, a 
great mercy, that those are sent to preach to them, to 
receive their confessions, and to advise them, who can 
sympathize with their sins, even though they have not 
known them. Not a temptation, my brethren, can 
befall you, but what befalls all those who share your 
nature, though you may have yielded to it, and they 
may not have yielded. They can understand you, they 
can anticipate you, they can interpret you, thougli they 
have not kept pace with you in your course. They 
will be tender to you, they will " instruct you in the 
spirit of meekness," as the Apostle says, " considering 
themselves lest they also be tempted." Come then 
unto us, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and ye shall find rest to your souls ; come unto us, 
who now stand to you in Christ's stead, and who 
speak in Christ's name ; for we too, like you, have 
been saved by Christ's all-saving blood. We too, like 



the Priests of the Gospel. 6i 

you, should be lost sinners, unless Christ had had 
mercy on us, unless His grace had cleansed us, unless 
His Church had received us, unless His saints had 
interceded for us. Be ye saved, as we have been 
saved ; " come, listen, all ye that fear God, and we 
will tell you what He hath done for our souls." Listen 
to our testimony ; behold our joy of heart, and in- 
crease it by partaking in it yourselves. Choose that 
good part which we have chosen ; join ye yourselves 
to our company ; it will never repent you, take our 
word for it, who have a right to speak, it will never 
repent yo.u to have sought pardon and peace from the 
Catholic Church, which alone has grace, which alone 
has power, which alone has Saints ; it will never re- 
pent you, though you go through trouble, though you 
have to give up much for her sake. It will never re- 
pent you, to have passed from the shadows of sense 
and time, and the deceptions of human feeling and 
false reason, to the glorious liberty of the sons of (xod. 
And 0, my brethren, when you have taken the great 
step, and stand in your blessed lot, as sinners recon- 
ciled to the Father you had offended (for I will antici- 
pate, what I surely trust will be fulfilled as regards 
many of you), O then forget not those who have been 
the ministers of your reconciliation ; and as they now 
pray you to make your peace with God, so do you, when 
reconciled, pray for them, that they may gain the great 
gift of perseverance, that they may continue to stand 
in the grace in which they trust they stand now, even 
till the hour of death, lest, perchance, after they have 
preached to others, they themselves become reprobate. 



DISCOURSE IV. 

PURITY AND LOVE. 

TXTE find t\yo especial manifestations of divine grace 
in the human heart, whether we turn to Scrip- 
ture for instances of it, or to the history of the Church ; 
whether we trace it in the case of Saints, or in persons 
of holy and religious life ; and the two are even found 
among our Lord's Apostles, being represented by the 
two foremost of that favoured company, St. Peter and 
St. John. St. John is the Saint of purity, and St. Peter 
is the Saint of love. Not that love and purity can 
ever be separated; not as if a Saint had not all virtues 
in him at once ; not as if St. Peter were not pure as 
well as loving, and St. John loving, for all he was so 
pure. The graces of the Spirit cannot be separated 
from each other ; one implies the rest ; what is love 
but a delight in God, a devotion to Him, a surrender 
of the whole self to Him ? what is impurity, on the 
other hand, but the turning to something of this 
world, something sinful, as the object of our affections 
instead of God ? What is it but a deliberate abandon- 
ment of the Creator for the creature, and seeking 
pleasure in the shadow of death, not in the all-blissful 



Purity and Love. 63 

Presence of light and holiness ? The impure then 
cannot love God ; and those who are without love of 
God cannot really be pure. Purity prepares the soul 
for love, and love confirms the soul in purity. The 
flame of love will not be bright unless the substance 
which feeds it be pure and unadulterate ; and the 
most dazzling purity is but as iciness and desolation 
unless it draws its life from fervent love. 

Yet, certain as this is, it is certain also that the 
spiritual works of God show differently from each 
other to our eyes, and that they display, in their 
character and their history, some of them this virtue 
more than other virtues, and some that. In other 
words, it pleases the Giver of grace to endue His 
Saints specially with certain gifts, for His glory, 
which light up and beautify one particular portion or 
department of their souls, so as to cast their other ex- 
cellences into the shade. And then this special gift of 
grace becomes their characteristic, and we put it first 
in our thoughts of them, and consider what they have 
besides, as included in it, or dependent upon it, and 
speak of them as if they had not the rest, though we 
know they really have them; and we give them some 
title or description taken from that particular grace 
which is so emphatically theirs. And in this way we 
may speak, as I intend to do in what I am going to 
say, of two chief classes of Saints, whose emblems 
are the lily and the rose, who are bright with angelic 
purity or who burn with divine love. 

The two St. Johns are the great instances of the 
Angelic life. Whom, my brethren, can we conceive 



64 Purity and Love. 

to have such majestic and severe sanctity as the Holy- 
Baptist ? He had a privilege which reached near upon 
tlie prerogative of the Most Blessed Mother of God ; 
for, if she was conceived without sin, at least without sin 
he was born. She was all-pure, all-holy, and sin had no 
part in her : but St. John was in the beginning of his 
existence a partaker of Adam's curse : he lay under 
God's wrath, deprived of that grace which Adam had 
received, and which is the life and strength of human 
nature. Yet, as soon as Christ, his Lord and Saviour, 
came to him, and Mary saluted his own mother, 
Elizabeth, forthwith the grace of God was given to 
him, and the original guilt was wiped away from his 
soul. And therefore it is that we celebrate the nativity 
of St. John; nothing unholy does the Church celebrate; 
not St. Peter's birth, nor St. Paul's, nor St. Augustine's, 
nor St. Gregory's, nor St. Bernard's, nor St. Aloysius's, 
nor the nativity of any other Saint, however glorious, 
because they were all born in sin. She celebrates their 
conversions, their prerogatives, their martyrdoms, their 
deaths, their translations, but not their birth, because 
in no case was it holy. Three nativities alone does she 
commemorate, our Lord's, His Mother's, and lastly, 
St. John's. What a special gift was this, my brethren, 
separating the Baptist off, and distinguishing him from 
all prophets and preachers, who ever lived, however 
holy, except perhaps the prophet Jeremias ! And such 
as was his commencement, was the course of his life. 
He was carried away by the Spirit into the desert, and 
there he lived on the simplest fare, in the rudest 
clothing, in the caves of wild beasts, apart from men, 



Purity and Love. 65 

for thirty years, leading a life of mortification and of 
prayer, till he was called to preach penance, to 
proclaim the Christ, and to baptise Him ; and then 
having done his work, and having left no act of sin 
on record, he was laid aside as an instrument which 
had lost its use, and languished in prison, till he was 
suddenly cut off by the sword of the executioner. 
Sanctity is the one idea of him impressed upon us from 
first to last ; a most marvellous Saint, a hermit from 
his childhood, then a preacher to a fallen people, and 
then a Martyr. Surely such a life fulfils that expecta- 
tion concerning him which follows on Mary's saluta- 
tion of his mother before his birth. 

Yet still more beautiful, and almost as majestic, is 
the image of his namesake, that great Apostle, Evan- 
gelist, and Prophet of the Church, who came so early 
into our Lord's chosen company, and lived so long 
after all his fellows. We can contemplate him in his 
youth and in his venerable age ; and on his whole life, 
from first to last, as his special gift, is marked purity. 
He is the virgin Apostle, who on that account was so 
dear to his Lord, " the disciple whom Jesus loved," 
who lay on His Bosom, who received His Mother from 
Him when upon the Cross, who had the vision of all 
the wonders which were to come to pass in the world 
to the end of time. " Greatly to be honoured," says 
the Church, " is blessed John, who on the Lord's 
Breast lay at supper, to whom, a virgin, did Christ on 
the Cross commit his Virgin Mother. He was chosen 
a virgin by the Lord, and was more beloved than the 
rest. The special prerogative of chastity had made 



66 Purity and Love. 

liim meet for his Lord's larger love, because, being 
cliosen by Him a virgin, a virgin he remained unto 
the end." He it was who in his youth professed his 
readiness to drink Christ's chalice with Him ; who 
wore away a long life as a desolate stranger in a 
foreign land ; who was at length carried to Eome and 
plunged into the hot oil, and then was banished to a 
far island, till his days drew near their close. 

how impossible it is worthily to conceive of the 
sanctity of these two great servants of God, so dif- 
ferent is their whole history, in their lives and in their 
deaths, yet agreeing together in their seclusion from 
the world, in their tranquillity, and in their all but 
sinlessness ! Mortal sin had never touched them, and 
we may well believe that even from deliberate venial 
sin they were ever exempt ; nay, that at particular 
seasons or on certain occasions they did not sin at all. 
The rebellion of the reason, the waywardness of the 
feelings, the disorder of the thoughts, the fever of 
passion, the treachery of the senses, these evils did the 
all-powerful grace of God subdue in them. They 
lived in a world of their own, uniform, serene, abiding ; 
in visions of peace, in communion with heaven, in 
anticipation of glory ; and, if they spoke to the world 
without, as preachers or as confessors, they spoke as 
from some sacred shrine, not mixing with men while 
they addressed them, as " a voice crying in the wilder- 
ness " or " in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." And 
therefore it is we speak of them rather as patterns of 
sanctity than of love, because love regards an external 
object, runs towards it and labours for it, whereas 



Purity and Love. 67 

such Saints came so close to the Object of their love, 
they were granted so to receive Him into their breasts, 
and so to make themselves one with Him, that their 
hearts did not so much love heaven as were them- 
selves a heaven, did not so much see light as were 
light ; and they lived among men as those Angels in 
the old time, who came to the patriarchs and spake as 
though they were God, for God was in them, and 
spake by them. Thus these two were almost absorbed 
in the Godhead, living an angelical life, as far as man 
could lead one, so calm, so still, so raised above sorrow 
and fear, disappointment and regret, desire and aver- 
sion, as to be the most perfect images that earth has 
seen of the peace and immutability of God. Such too 
are the many virgin Saints whom history records for 
our veneration, St. Joseph, the great St. Antony, St. 
Cecilia who was waited on by Angels, St. Nicolas 
of Bari, St. Peter Celestine, St. Eose of Viterbo, St. 
Catharine of Sienna, and a host of others, and above 
all, the Virgin of Virgins, and Queen of Virgins, the 
Blessed Mary, who, though replete and overflowing 
with the grace of love, yet for the very reason that 
she was the " seat of wisdom," and the " ark of the 
covenant," is more commonly represented under the 
emblem of the lily than of the rose. 

But now, my brethren, let us turn to the other 
class of Saints. I have been speaking of those who 
in a wonderful, sometimes in a miraculous way, have 
been defended from sin, and conducted from strength 
to strength, from youth till death ; but now suppose 
it has been the will of God to shed the light and 



68 Purity and Love. 

power of His Spirit upon those who have misused the 
talents, and quenched the grace already given them, 
and who therefore have a host of evils within them of 
which they are to be dispossessed, who are under the 
dominion of obstinate habits, indulged passions, false 
opinions; who have served Satan, not as infants 
before their baptism, but with their will, with their 
reason, with their faculties responsible, and their hearts 
alive and conscious. Is He to draw these elect souls 
to Him without themselves, or by means of them- 
selves ? Is He to change them at His word, as He 
created them, as He will make them die, as He will 
raise them from the grave, or is He to enter into their 
souls, to address Himself to them, to persuade them, 
and so to win them ? Doubtless He might have been 
urgent with them, and masterful; He might by a 
blessed violence have come upon them, and so turned 
them into Saints; He might have superseded any 
process of conversion, and out of the very stones have 
raised up children to Abraham. But He has willed 
otherwise ; else, why did He manifest Himself on 
earth ? Why did He surround Himself on His com- 
ing with so much that was touching and attractive 
and subduing ? Why did He bid His angels proclaim 
that He was to be seen as a little infant, in a manger 
and in a Virgin's bosom, at Bethlehem ? Why did 
He go about doing good ? Why did He die in public, 
before the world, with His mother and His beloved 
disciple by Him ? Why does He now tell us how He 
is exalted in Heaven with a host of glorified Saints, 
who are our intercessors, about His throne ? Why 



Purity and Love. 69 

does He give us His own Mother Mary for our mother, 
the most perfect image after Himself of what is beau- 
tiful and tender, and gentle and soothing, in human 
nature ? Why does He manifest Himself by an 
ineffable condescension on our Altars, still humbling 
Himself, though He reigns on high ? "What does all 
this show, but that, when souls wander away from 
Him, He reclaims them by means of themselves, " by 
cords of Adam," or of human nature, as the prophet 
speaks, — conquering us indeed at His will, saving us 
in spite of ourselves, — and yet by ourselves, so that the 
very reason and affections of the old Adam, which 
have been made " the instruments of iniquity unto 
sin," should, under the power of His grace, become 
" the instruments of justice unto God " ? 

Yes, doubtless He draws us " by cords of Adam," 
and what are those cords, but, as the prophet speaks 
in the same verse, " the cords," or " the twine of love " ? 
It is the manifestation of the glory of God in the Face 
of Jesus Christ ; it is that view of the attributes and 
perfections of Almighty God ; it is the beauty of His 
sanctity, the sweetness of His mercy, the brightness 
of His heaven, the majesty of His law, the harmony 
of His providences, the thrilling music of His voice, 
which is the antagonist of the flesh, and the soul's 
champion against the world and the devil. " Thou 
hast seduced me, Lord," says the prophet, " and I 
was seduced ; Thou art stronger than I, and hast pre- 
vailed ; " Thou hast thrown Thy net skilfully, and its 
subtle threads are entwined round each affection of my 
heart, and its meshes have beenapowerof God," bring- 



70 Purity and Love. 

ing into captivity the whole intellect to the service of 
Christ." If the world has its fascinations, so surely 
has the Altar of the living God ; if its pomps and 
vanities dazzle, so much more should the vision of 
Angels ascending and descending on the heavenly 
ladder ; if sights of earth intoxicate, and its music is a 
spell upon the soul, behold Mary pleads with us, over 
against them, with her chaste eyes, and offers the 
Eternal Child for our caress, while sounds of cherubim 
are heard all round singing from out the fulness of the 
Divine Glory. Has divine hope no emotion ? Has 
divine charity no transport? "How dear are Thy 
tabernacles, Lord of hosts ! " says the prophet ; " my 
soul doth lust, and doth faint for the courts of the Lord ; 
my heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. 
Better is one day in Thy courts above a thousand : I 
have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, 
rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners." 

So is it, as a great Doctor and penitent has said, St. 
Augustine ; " It is not enough to be drawn by the will ; 
thou art also drawn by the sense of pleasure. What 
is it to be drawn by pleasure ? ' Delight thou in the 
Lord, and He will give thee the petitions of thy heart.' 
There is a certain pleasure of heart, when that heavenly 
Bread is sweet to a man. Moreover, if the poet saith, 
'Every one is drawn by his own pleasure,' not by 
necessity, but by pleasure ; not by obligation, but by 
delight ; how much more boldly ought we to say, that 
man is drawn to Christ, when he is delighted with 
truth, delighted with bliss, delighted with justice, de- 
lighted with eternal life, all which is Christ ? Have 



Purity and Love. 71 

the bodily senses their pleasures, and is the mind with- 
out its own ? If so, whence is it said, * The sons of 
men shall hope under the covering of Thy wings ; they 
shall be intoxicate with the richness of Thy house, 
and with the torrent of Thy pleasure shalt thou give 
them to drink : for with Thee is the well of life, and 
in Thy light we shall see light?' 'He, whom the 
Father draweth, cometh to Me ' " ? he continues ; 
" Whom hath the Father drawn ? him who said, 
' Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.' You 
present a green branch to the sheep, and you draw it 
forward ; fruits are offered to the child, and he is drawn; 
in that he runs, he is drawn, he is drawn by loving, 
drawn without bodily hurt, drawn by the bond of the 
heart. If then it be true that the sight of earthly 
delight draws on the lover, doth not Christ too draw 
us when revealed by the Father ? For what doth the 
soul desire more strongly than truth ? " 

Such are the means which God has provided for the 
creation of the Saint out of the sinner ; He takes him 
as he is, and uses him against himself : He turns his 
affections into another channel, and extinguishes a 
carnal love by infusing a heavenly charity. Not as if 
He used him as a mere irrational creature, who is im- 
pelled by instincts and governed by external incite- 
ments without any will of his own, and to whom one 
pleasure is the same as another, the same in kind, 
though different in degree. I have already said, it is 
the very triumph of His grace, that He enters into the 
heart of man, and persuades it, and prevails with it, 
while He changes it. He violates in nothing that 



72 Purity and Love. 

original constitution of mind which He gave to man : 
He treats him as man ; He leaves him the liberty of 
acting this way or that ; He appeals to all his powers 
and faculties, to his reason, to his prudence, to his 
moral sense, to his conscience : He rouses his fears 
as well as his love ; He instructs him in the depravity 
of sin, as well as in the mercy of God; but still, 
on the whole, the animating principle of the new 
life, by which it is both kindled and sustained, is the 
flame of charity. This only is strong enough to destroy 
the old Adam, to dissolve the tyranny of habit, to 
quench the fires of concupiscence, and to burn up the 
strongholds of pride. 

And hence it is that love is presented to us as the 
distinguishing grace of those who were sinners before 
they were Saints ; not that love is not the life of all 
Saints, of those who have never needed a conversion, 
of the Most Blessed Virgin, of the two St. John's, and 
of those others, many in number, who are " first-fruits 
unto God and the Lamb ; " but that, while in those who 
have never sinned gravely love is so contemplative as 
almost to resolve itself into the sanctity of God Him- 
self; in those, on the contrary, in whom it dwells as 
a principle of recovery, it is so full of devotion, of zeal, 
of activity, and good works, that it gives a visible 
character to their history, and is ever associating itself 
with our thoughts of them. 

Such was the great Apostle, on whom the Church 
is built, and whom I contrasted, when I began, with 
his fellow- Apostle St. John : whether we contemplate 
him after his first calling, or on his repentance, he who 



Purity and Love. 73 

denied his Lord, out of all the Apostles, is the most 
conspicuous for his love of Him. It was for this love 
of Christ, flowing on, as it did, from its impetuosity 
and exuberance, into love of the brethren, that he was 
chosen to be the chief Pastor of the fold. " Simon, 
son of John, lovest thou Me more than these ? " was 
the trial put on him by his Lord; and the reward was, 
"Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." Wonderful to 
say, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, was yet surpassed 
in love for Jesus by a brother Apostle, not virginal as 
he ; for it is not John of whom our Lord asked this 
question, and who was rewarded with this commis- 
sion, but Peter. 

Look back at an earlier passage of the same narra- 
tive ; there, too, the two Apostles are similarly con- 
trasted in their respective characters ; for when they 
were in the boat, and their Lord spoke to them from 
the shore, and " they knew not that it was Jesus," first 
" that disciple, whom Jesus loved, said to Peter, It is 
the Lord," for " the clean of heart shall see God ; " 
and then at once " Simon Peter," in the impetuosity 
of his love, " girt his tunic about him, and cast him- 
self into the sea," to reach Him the quicker. St. 
John beholds and St. Peter acts. 

Thus the very presence of Jesus enkindled Peter's 
heart, and at once drew him unto Him ; also at a 
former time, when he saw his Lord walking on the 
sea, his very first impulse was, as in the passage to 
which I have been referring, to leave the vessel and 
hasten to His side: "Lord, if it be Thou, bid nie come 
to Thee upon the waters." And when he had been 



74 Pti7'ity and Love. 

betrayed into his great sin, the very Eye of Jesus 
brought him to himself: "And the Lord turned and 
looked upon Peter ; and Peter remembered the word 
of the Lord, and he went out and wept bitterly." 
Hence, on another occasion, when many of the dis- 
ciples fell away, and " Jesus said to the twelve, Do 
you too wish to go away ? " St. Peter answered, 
" Lord, to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words 
of eternal life ; and we have believed and have known 
that Thou art Christ, the Son of God." 

Such, too, was that other great Apostle, who, in so 
many ways, is associated with St. Peter — the Doctor 
of the Gentiles. He indeed was converted miracu- 
lously, by our Lord's appearing to him, when he 
was on his way to carry death to the Christians of 
Damascus : but how does he speak ? " "Whether we 
are beside ourselves," he says, "it is to God; or 
whether we be sober, it is for you : for the charity of 
Christ constraineth us. If, therefore, any be a new 
creature in Christ, old things have passed away, 
behold all things are made new." And so again: 
" With Christ am I nailed to the cross ; but I live, 
yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me : and the life 
I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of 
God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." And 
again : " I am the least of the Apostles, who am not 
worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted 
the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am 
what I am ; and His grace in me hath not been void, 
but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not 
I, but the grace of God with me." And once more : 



Purity and Love. 75 

" "Whether we live, unto the Lord we live ; whether 
we die, unto the Lord we die; whether we live or 
whether we die, we are the Lord's." You see, my 
brethren, the character of St. Paul's love ; it was a 
love fervent, eager, energetic, active, full of great 
works, " strong as death," as the inspired Word says, a 
flame which " many waters could not quench, nor the 
streams drown," which lasted to the end, when he 
could say, "I have fought the good fight, I have 
finished the course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth 
is laid up for me the crown of justice, which the Lord 
will render to me at that day, the just Judge." 

And there is a third, my brethren, there is an illus- 
trious third in Scripture, w^hom we must associate 
with these two great Apostles, w^hen we speak of the 
saints of penance and love. Who is it but the loving 
Magdalen ? Who is it so fully instances what I am 
showing, as "the woman who was a sinner," who 
watered the Lord's feet with her tears, and dried them 
with her hair, and anointed them with precious oint- 
ment ? What a time for such an act ! She, who had 
come into the room, as if for a festive purpose, to go 
about an act of penance ! It was a formal banquet, 
given by a rich Pharisee, to honour, yet to try, our 
Lord. Magdalen came, young and beautiful, and 
" rejoicing in her youth," " walking in the ways of 
her heart and the gaze of her eyes : " she came as if 
to honour that feast, as women were wont to honour 
such festive doings, with her sweet odours and cool 
unguents for the forehead and hair of the guests. 
And he, the proud Pharisee, suffered her to come, so 



76 Purity and Love. 

that she touched not him ; let her come as we might 
suffer inferior animals to enter our apartments, with- 
out caring for them ; perhaps suffered her as a neces- 
sary embellishment of the entertainment, yet as having 
no soul, or as destined to perdition, but anyhow as 
nothing to him. He, proud being, and his brethren 
like him, might " compass sea and land to make one 
proselyte;" but, as to looking into that proselyte's 
heart, pitying its sin, and trying to heal it, this did 
not enter into the circuit of his thoughts. No, he 
thought only of the necessities of his banquet, and he 
let her come to do her part, such as it was, careless 
what her life was, so that she did that part well, and 
confined herself to it. But, lo, a wondrous sight ! 
was it a sudden inspiration, or a mature resolve ? was 
it an act of the moment, or the result of a long con- 
flict ? — but behold, that poor, many-coloured child of 
guilt approaches to crown with her sweet ointment 
the head of Him to whom the feast was given ; and 
see, she has stayed her hand. She has looked, and 
she discerns the Immaculate, the Virgin's Son, " the 
brightness of the Eternal Light, and the spotless 
mirror of God's majesty." She looks, and she re- 
cognizes the Ancient of Days, the Lord of life and 
death, her Judge ; and again she looks, and she sees 
in His face and in His mien a beauty, and a sweet- 
ness, awful, serene, majestic, more than that of the 
sons of men, which paled all the splendour of that 
festive room. Again she looks, timidly yet eagerly, 
and she discerns in His eye, and in His smile, the 
loving-kindness, the tenderness, the compassion, the 



Purity and Love. "jy 

mercy of the Saviour of man. She looks at herself, 
and oh ! how vile, how hideous is she, who but now 
was so vain of her attractions ! — how withered is that 
comeliness, of which the praises ran through the 
mouths of her admirers ! — how loathsome has become 
the breath, which hitherto she thought so fragrant, 
savouring only of those seven bad spirits which dwell 
within her ! And there she would have stayed, there 
she would have sunk on the earth, wrapped in her 
confusion and in her despair, had she not cast one 
glance again on that all-loving, all-forgiving Counte- 
nance. He is looking at her : it is the Shepherd 
looking at the lost sheep, and the lost sheep sur- 
renders herself to Him. He speaks not, but He eyes 
her ; and she draws nearer to Him. Eejoice, ye 
Angels, she draws near, seeing nothing but Him, and 
caring neither for the scorn of the proud, nor the 
jests of the profligate. She draws near, not knowing 
whether she shall be saved or not, not knowing 
whether she shall be received, or what will become of 
her ; this only knowing that He is the Fount of holi- 
ness and truth, as of mercy, and to whom should she 
go, but to Him who hath the words of eternal life? 
" Destruction is thine own, Israel ; in Me only is 
thy help. Eeturn unto Me, and I will not turn away 
My face from thee : for I am holy, and will not be 
angry for ever." " Behold we come unto thee ; for 
Thou art the Lord our God. Truly the hills are false, 
and the multitude of the mountains : Truly the Lord 
our God is the salvation of Israel." Wonderful meet- 
ing between what was most base and what is most 



yS Purity and Love. 

pure ! Those wanton hands, those polluted lips, have 
touched, have kissed the feet of the Eternal, and He 
shrank not from the homage. And as she hung over 
them, and as she moistened them from her full eyes, 
how did her love for One so great, yet so gentle, wax 
vehement within her, lighting up a flame which never 
was to die from that moment even for ever ! and what 
excess did it reach, when He recorded before all men 
her forgiveness, and the cause of it! "Many sins 
are forgiven her, for she loved much ; but to whom 
less is forgiven, the same loveth less. And He said 
unto her. Thy sins are forgiven thee ; thy faith hath 
made thee safe, go in peace." 

Henceforth, my brethren, love was to her, as to St. 
Augustine and to St. Ignatius Loyola afterwards 
(great penitents in their own time), as a wound in the 
soul, so full of desire as to become anguish. She 
€ould not live out of the presence of Him in whom 
her joy lay : her spirit languished after Him, when 
she saw Him not; and waited on Him silently, 
reverently, wistfully, when she was in His blissful 
Presence. We read of her (if it was she), on one occa- 
sion, sitting at His feet to hear His words, and of His 
testifying that she had chosen that best part which 
should not be taken away from her. And, after His 
resurrection, she, by her perseverance, merited to see 
Him even before the Apostles. She would not leave 
the sepulchre, when Peter and John retired, but stood 
without, weeping; and when the Lord appeared to her, 
and held her eyes that she should not know Him, she 
said piteously to the supposed keeper of the garden, 



Purity and Love. 79 

"Tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take 
Him away." And when at length He made Himself 
known to her, she turned herself, and rushed im- 
petuously to embrace His feet, as at the beginning, 
but He, as if to prove the dutifulness of her love, 
forbade her: "Touch Me not," He said, "for I have 
not yet ascended to My Father ; but go to my brethren 
and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your 
Father, to my God and your God." And so she was 
left to long for the time when she should see Him, and 
hear His voice, and enjoy His smile, and be allowed 
to minister to Him, for ever in heaven. 

Such then is the second great class of Saints, as 
viewed in contrast with the first. Love is the life 
of both : but while the love of the innocent is calm 
and serene, the love of the penitent is ardent and im- 
petuous, commonly engaged in contest with the world, 
and active in good works. And this is the love which 
you, my brethren, must have in your measure, if you 
would have a good hope of salvation. For you were 
once sinners ; either by open and avowed contempt of 
religion, or by secret transgression, or by carelessness 
and coldness, or by some indulged bad habit, or by 
setting your heart on some object of this world, and 
doing your own will instead of God's, I think I may 
say you have needed, or now need, a reconciliation to 
Him. You have needed, or you need, to be brought 
near to Him, and to have your sins washed away in 
His blood, and your pardon recorded in Heaven. And 
what will do this for you, but contrition ? and w^liat is 
contrition without love ? I do not say that you must 



8o Purity and Love. 

have the love which Saints have, in order to your for- 
giveness, the love of St. Peter or of St. Mary Magdalen ; 
but still without your portion of that same heavenly 
grace, how can you be forgiven at all ? If you would 
do works meet for penance, they must proceed from 
a living flame of charity. If you would secure perse- 
verance to the end, you must gain it by continual loving 
prayer to the Author and Finisher of faith and obedi- 
ence. If you would have a good prospect of His 
acceptance of you in your last moments, still it is love 
alone which secures His love, and blots out sin. My 
brethren, at that awful hour you may be unable to 
obtain the last Sacraments ; death may come on you 
suddenly, or you may be at a distance from a Priest. 
You may be thrown on yourselves, simply on your own 
compunction of heart, your own repentance, your own 
resolutions of amendment. You may have been weeks 
and weeks at a distance from spiritual aid ; you may 
have to meet your God without the safeguard, the 
compensation, the mediation of any holy rite ; and 
Oh ! what will save you at such disadvantage, but the 
exercise of divine love " poured over your hearts by 
the Holy Ghost who is given to you " ? At that hour 
nothing but a firm habit of charity, which has kept 
you from mortal sins, or a powerful act of charity 
which blots them out, will be of any avail to you. 
Nothing but charity can enable you to live well or to 
die well. How can you bear to lie down at night, how 
can you bear to go a journey, how can you bear the 
presence of pestilence, or the attack of ever so slight 
an indisposition, if you are ill provided in yourselves 



Purity and Love. 8 1 

with divine love against that change, which will come 

on you some day, yet when and how you know not ? 

Alas ! how will you present yourselves before the 

judgment-seat of Christ, with the imperfect mixed 

feelings which now satisfy you, with a certain amount 

of faith, and trust, and fear of God's judgments, but 

with nothing of that real delight in Him, in His 

attributes, in His will, in His commandments, in His 

service, which Saints possess in such fulness, and 

which alone can give the soul a comfortable title to 

the merits of His death and passion ? 

How different is the feeling with which the loving 

soul, on its separation from the body, approaches the 

judgment-seat of its Eedeemer ! It knows how great 

a debt of punishment remains upon it, though it has 

for many years been reconciled to Him ; it knows that 

purgatory lies before it, and that the best it can 

reasonably hope for is to be sent there. But to see 

His face, though for a moment ! to hear His voice, to 

hear Him speak, though it be to punish ! Saviour of 

men, it says, I come to Thee, though it be in order to be 

at once remanded from Thee ; I come to Thee who art 

my Life and my All ; I come to Thee on the thought 

of whom I have lived all my life long. To Thee I 

gave myself when first I had to take a part in the 

world; I sought Thee for my chief good early, for 

early didst Thou teach me, that good elsewhere there 

was none. Whom have I in heaven but Thee ? whom 

have I desired on earth, whom have I had on earth, 

but Thee ? whom shall I have amid the sharp flame 

but Thee ? Yea, though I be now descending thither, 

6 



82 Purity and Love. 

into "a land desert, pathless and without water," I 
will fear no ill, for Thou art with me. I have seen 
Thee this day face to face, and it sufficeth ; I have 
seen Thee, and that glance of Thine is sufficient for a 
century of sorrow, in the nether prison. I willlive 
on that look of Thine, though I see Thee not, till I see 
Thee again, never to part from Thee. That eye of 
Thine shall be sunshine and comfort to my weary, 
longing soul ; that voice of Thine shall be everlasting 
music in my ears. Nothing can harm me, nothing 
shall discompose me : I will bear the appointed years, 
till the end comes, bravely and sweetly. I will raise 
my voice, and chant a perpetual Confiteor to Thee and 
to Thy Saints in that dreary valley ; — " to God Omni- 
potent, and to the Blessed Mary Ever- Virgin," (Thy 
Mother and mine, immaculate in her conception), 
"and to blessed Michael Archangel," (created in his 
purity by the very hand of God), and " to Blessed 
John Baptist," (sanctified even in his mother's womb) ; 
and after these three, " to the Holy Apostles Peter 
and Paul," (penitents, who compassionate the sinner 
from their experience of sin); " to all Saints," (whether 
they have lived in contemplation or in toil, during 
the days of their pilgrimage), to all Saints will I ad- 
dress my supplication, that they may " remember me, 
since it is well with them, and do mercy by me, and 
make mention of me unto the King that He bring me 
out of prison." And then at length " God shall wipe 
away every tear from my eyes, and death shall be 
no longer, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain any 
more, for the former things are passed away." 



DISCOURSE V. 

SAINTLINESS THE STANDARD OF CHRISTIAN 
PRINCIPLE. 

TTOU know very well, my brethren, and there are 
few persons anywhere who deny it, that in the 
breast of every one there dwells a feeling or percep- 
tion, which tells him the difference between right and 
wrong, and is the standard by which to measure 
thoughts and actions. It is called conscience ; and 
even though it be not at all times powerful enough to 
rule us, still it is distinct and decisive enough to 
influence our views and form our judgments in the 
various matters which come before us. Yet even this 
office it cannot'perform adequately without external 
assistance ; it needs to be regulated and sustained. 
Left to itself though it tells truly at first, it soon be- 
comes wavering, ambiguous, and false ; it needs good 
teachers and good examples to keep it up to the mark 
and line of duty ; and the misery is, that these ex- 
ternal helps, teachers, and examples are in many 
instances wanting. 

Nay, to the great multitude of men they are so far 
wanting, that conscience loses its way and guides the 



84 Saintliness the Standard 

soul in its journey heavenward but indirectly and 
circuitously. Even in countries called Christian, the 
natural inward light grows dim, because the Light, 
which lightens every one born into the world, is 
removed out of sight. I say, it is a most miserable 
and frightful thought, that, in this country, among 
this people which boasts that it is so Christian and so 
enlightened, the sun in the heavens is so eclipsed that 
the mirror of conscience can catch and reflect fev/ rays, 
and serves but poorly and scantily to preserve the 
foot from error. That inward light, given as it is by 
God, is powerless to illuminate the horizon, to mark 
out for us our direction, and to comfort us with the 
certainty that we are making for our Eternal Home. 
That light was intended to set up within us a standard 
of right and of truth ; to tell us our duty on every 
emergency, to instruct us in detail what sin is, to 
judge between all things which come before us, to 
discriminate the precious from the vile, to hinder us 
from being seduced by wdiat is pleasant and agree- 
able, and to dissipate the sophisms of our reason. 
But alas ! what ideas of truth, what ideas of holiness, 
what ideas of heroism, what ideas of the good and 
great, have the multitude of men ? I am not asking 
whether they act up to any ideas, or are swayed by 
any ideas, of these high objects ; that is a further 
point ; I only ask, have they any ideas of them at all ? 
or, if they cannot altogether blot out from their souls 
their ideas of greatness and goodness, I ask still, 
whether their mode of conceiving of them, and the 
things and persons in which they embody them, be 



of Christian Principle. 85 

not such, that we may truly say of the bulk of man- 
kind, that " the light that is in them is darkness." 

Attend to me, my dear brethren, I am saying 
nothing very abstruse, nothing very difficult to un- 
derstand, nothing unimportant; but something intel- 
ligible, imdeniable, and of very general concern. 
You know there are persons who never see the light 
of day ; they live in pits and mines, 'and there they 
work, there they take their pleasure, and there per- 
haps they die. Do you think they have any right 
idea, though they have eyes, of the sun's radiance, of 
the sun's warmth? any idea of the beautiful arching 
heavens, the blue sky, the soft clouds, and the moon 
and stars by night ? any idea of the high mountain, 
and the green smiling earth ? what an hour it is 
for him who is suddenly brought from such a pit or 
cave, from the dull red glow and the flickering glare of 
torches, and that monotony of an artificial twilight, 
in which day and night are lost, — is suddenly, I say, 
brought thence, and for the first time sees the bright 
sun moving majestically from East to West, and 
witnesses the gradual graceful changes of the air and 
sky from morn till fragrant evening ! And O what 
a sight for one born blind to begin to see, — a sense 
altogether foreign to all his previous conceptions ! 
What a marvellous new state of being, which, though 
he ever had the senses of hearing and of touch, never 
had he been able, by the words of others, or any 
means of information he possessed, to bring home to 
himself in the faintest measure ! Would he not find 
himself, as it is said, in a " new world " ? What a 



86 Saintliness the Standard 

revolution would take place in his modes of thought, 
in his habits, in his ways, and in his doings hour by 
hour ! He would no longer direct himself with his 
hands and his hearing, he would no longer grope 
about ; he would see ; — he would at a glance take in 
ten thousand objects, and, what is more, their relations 
and their positions the one towards theother. He would 
know what was great and what was little, what was 
near, what was distant, what things converged together 
and what things were ever separate — in a word, he 
would see all things as a whole, and in subjection to 
himself as a centre. 

But further, he would gain knowledge of something 
closer to himself and more personal than all these 
various objects ; of something very different from the 
forms and groups in which light dwelt as in a taber- 
nacle, and which excited his admiration and love. 
He would discover lying upon him, spreading over 
him, penetrating him, the festering seeds of un- 
healthiness and disease in their primary and minutest 
forms. The air around us is charged with a subtle 
powder or dust, which falls down softly on every- 
thing, silently sheds itself on everything, soils and 
stains everything, and, if suffered to remain undis- 
turbed, induces sickness and engenders pestilence. 
It is like those ashes of the furnace which Moses 
was instructed to take up and scatter in the face of 
heaven, that they might become ulcers and blisters 
upon the flesh of the Egyptians. This subtle plague 
is felt in its ultimate consequences by all, the blind as 
well as those who see ; but it is by the eyesight that 



of Christian Principle. 87 

we discern it in its origin and in its progress ; it is by 
the sun's light that we discern our own defilement, 
and the need we have of continual cleansing to rid 
ourselves of it. 

Now what is this dust and dirt, my brethren, but a 
figure of sin ? so subtle in its approach, so multi- 
tudinous in its array, so incessant in its solicitations, 
so insignificant in its appearance, so odious, so poison- 
ous in its effects. It falls on the soul gently and 
imperceptibly ; but it gradually breeds wounds and 
sores, and ends in everlasting death. And as we 
cannot see the atoms of dust that have settled on us 
without the light, and as that same light, which 
enables us to see them, teaches us withal, by their 
very contrast with itself, their unseemliness and dis- 
honour, so the light of the invisible world, the teach- 
ings and examples of revealed truth, bring home to us 
both the existence and also the deformity of sin, of 
which we should be unmindful or forgetful without 
them. And as there are men who live in caverns and 
mines, and never see the face of day, and do their 
work as best they can by torch-light, so there are 
multitudes, nay, whole races of men, who, though 
possessed of eyes by nature, cannot use them duly, 
because they live in the spiritual pit, in the region of 
darkness, " in the land of wretchedness and gloom, 
where there is the shadow of death, and where order 
is not." 

There they are born, there they live, there they die ; 
and instead of the bright, broad, and all-revealing 
luminousness of the sun, they grope their way from 



88 Saint liness the Standard 

place to place with torches, as best they may, or fix 
up lamps at certain points, and " walk in the light of 
their fire, and in the flames which they have kindled ; " 
because they have nothing clearer, nothing purer, to 
serve the needs of the day and the year. Light of 
some kind they must secure, and, when they can do no 
better, they make it for themselves. Man, a being 
endued with reason, cannot on that very account live 
altogether at random ; he is obliged in some sense to 
live on principle, to live by rule, to profess a view of 
life, to have an aim, to set up a standard, and to take 
to him such examples as seem to him to fulfil it. His 
reason does not make him independent (as men 
sometimes speak) ; it forces on him a dependency on 
definite principles and laws, in order to satisfy its own 
demands. He must by the necessity of his nature, 
look up to something ; and he creates, if he cannot 
discover, an object for his veneration. He teaches him- 
self, or is taught by his neighbour, falsehoods, if he is 
not taught truth from above; he makes to himself idols, 
if he knows not of the Eternal God and His Saints. 
Now, of which of the two, think you, my brethren, are 
our own countrymen in possession ? have they pos- 
session of the true Object of worship, or have they a 
false one ? have they created what is not, or discovered 
what is ? do they walk by the luminaries of heaven, or 
are they as those who are born and live in caverns, and 
who strike their light as best they may, by means of 
the stones and metals of the earth ? 

Look around, my brethren, and answer for your- 
selves. Contemplate the objects of this people's 



of Christian Principle. 89 

praise, survey their standards, ponder their ideas and 
judgments, and then tell me whether it is not most 
evident, from their very notion of the desirable and 
the excellent, that greatness, and goodness, and sanc- 
tity, and sublimity, and truth are unknown to them ; 
and that they not only do not pursue, but do not even 
admire, those high attributes of the Divine Nature. 
This is what I am insisting on, not what they actually 
do or what they are, but what they revere, what they 
adore, what their gods are. Their god is mammon ; 
I do not mean to say that all seek to be wealthy, but 
that all bow down before wealth. Wealth is that 
to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive 
homage. They measure happiness by wealth ; and by 
wealth they measure respectability. Numbers, I say, 
there are who never dream that they shall ever be rich 
themselves, but who still at the sight of wealth feel 
an involuntary reverence and awe, just as if a rich 
man must be a good man. They like to be noticed by 
some particular rich man ; they like on some occasion 
to have spoken with him ; they like to know those 
who know him, to be intimate with his dependants, 
to have entered his house, nay, to know him by sight. 
Not, I repeat, that it ever comes into their mind that 
the like wealth will one day be theirs ; not that they 
see, the wealth, for the man who has it may dress, and 
live, and look like other men ; not that they expect to 
gain some benefit from it : no, theirs is a disinterested 
homage, it is a homage resulting from an honest, 
genuine, hearty admiration of wealth for its own sake, 
such as that pure love which holy men feel for the 



90 Saintliiiess the Stmidard 

Maker of all ; it is a homage resulting from a pro- 
found faith in wealth, from the intimate sentiment of 
their hearts, that, however a man may look, — poor, 
mean, starved, decrepit, vulgar ; or again, though he 
may be ignorant, or diseased, or feeble-minded, 
though he have the character of being a tyrant or a 
profligate, yet, if he be rich, he differs from all others ; 
if he be rich, he has a gift, a spell, an omnipotence ; 
— that with wealth he may do all things. 

Wealth is one idol of the day, and notoriety is a 
second. I am not speaking, I repeat, of what men 
actually pursue, but of what they look up to, what 
they revere. Men may not have the opportunity of 
pursuing what they admirestill. Never could notoriety 
exist as it does now, in any former age of the world ; 
now that the news of the hour from all parts of the 
world, private news as well as public, is brought day 
by day to every individual, as I may say, of the 
community, to the poorest artisan and the most 
secluded peasant, by processes so uniform, so unvarying 
so spontaneous, that JihexslDiost bear the semblance 
of a natioranaw. And hence notoriety, or the making 
a noise in the world, has come to be considered a great 
good in itself, and a ground of veneration. Time was 
when men could only make a display by means of ex- 
penditure ; and the world used to gaze with wonder 
on those who had large establishments, many servants, 
many horses, richly-furnished houses, gardens, and 
parks : it does so still, that is, when it has the oppor- 
tunity of doing so : for such magnificence is the fortune 
of the few, and comparatively few are its witnesses. 



of Christian Principle. 9 1 

Notoriety, or, as it may be called, newspaper fame, is 
to the many what style and fashion, to use the language 
of the world, are to those who are within or belong to 
the higher circles ; it becomes to them a sort of idol, 
worshipped for its own sake, and without any refer- 
ence to the shape in which it comes before them. It 
may be an evil fame or a good fame; it may be the 
notoriety of a great statesman, or of a great preacher, 
or of a great speculator, or of a great experimentalist,, 
or of a great criminal ; of one who has laboured in the 
improvement of our schools, or hospitals, or prisons, 
or workhouses, or of one who has robbed his neighbour 
of his wife. It matters not ; so that a man is talked 
much of, and read much of, he is thought much of; 
nay, let him even have died justly under the hands of 
the law, still he will be made a sort of martyr of. His 
clothes, his handwriting, the circumstances of his guilt,, 
the instruments of his deed of blood, will be shown 
about, gazed on, treasured up as so many relics ; for 
the question with men is, not whether he is great, or 
good, or wise, or holy ; not whether he is base, and vile, 
and odious, but whether he is in the mouths of men, 
whether he has centred on himself the attention of 
many, whether he has done something out of the way, 
whether he has been (as it were) canonized in the 
publications of the hour. All men cannot be notorious : 
the multitudes who thus honour notoriety, do not seek 
it themselves; nor am I speaking of what men do, but 
how they judge; yet instances do occur from time to 
time of wretched men, so smitten wdth passion for 
notoriety, as even to dare in fact some detestable and 



92 Saint line ss the Standard 

wanton act, not from love of it, not from liking or 
dislike of the person against whom it is directed, but 
simply in order thereby to gratify this impure desire 
of being talked about, and gazed upon. "These are 
thy gods, Israel!" Alas! alas! this great and 
noble people, born to aspire, born for reverence, behold 
them walking to and fro by the torch-light of the 
cavern, or pursuing the wild-fires of the marsh, not 
understanding themselves, their destinies, their defile- 
ments, their needs, because they have not the glorious 
luminaries of heaven to see, to consult, and to admire ! 
But ! what a change, my brethren, when the 
good hand of God brings them by some marvellous 
providence to the pit's mouth, and then out into the 
blessed light of day ! what a change for them when 
they first begin to see with the eyes of the soul, with 
the intuition which grace gives, Jesus, the Sun of 
Justice ; and the heaven of Angels and Archangels in 
which He dwells ; and the bright Morning Star, which 
is His Blessed Mother ; and the continual floods of light 
falling and striking against the earth, and transformed, 
as they fall, into an infinity of hues, which are His 
Saints ; and the boundless sea, which is the image of 
His divine immensity ; and then again the calm, placid 
Moon by night, which images His Church ; and the 
silent stars, like good and holy men, travelling on in 
lonely pilgrimage to their eternal rest ! Such was the 
surprise, such the transport, which came upon the 
favoured disciples, whom on one occasion our Lord 
took up with Him to the mountain's top. He left the 
sick world, the tormented, restless multitude, at its 



of Christian Principle. 93 

foot, and He took them up, and was transfigured 
before them. " His face did shine as the sun, and 
His raiment was white as the light ; " and they lifted 
their eyes, and saw on either side of Him a bright 
form ; — these were two Saints of the elder covenant, 
Moses and Elias, who were conversing with Him. 
How truly was this a glimpse of Heaven ! the holy 
Apostles were introduced into a new range of ideas 
into a new sphere of contemplation, till St. Peter, 
overcome by the vision, cried out, "Lord, it is good 
to be here; and let us make three tabernacles." He 
would fain have kept those heavenly glories always with 
him ; everything on earth, the brightest, the fairest, 
the noblest, paled and dwindled away, and turned to 
corruption before them ; its most substantial good was 
vanity, its richest gain was dross, its keenest joy a 
weariness, and its sin a loathsomeness and abomina- 
tion. And such as this in its measure is the contrast, 
to which the awakened soul is witness, between the 
objects of its admiration and pursuit in its natural 
state, and those which burst upon it when it hns 
entered into communion with the Church Invisible, 
when it has come " to mount Sion, and to the city of 
the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to a 
company of many thousand Angels, and to the Church 
of the first-born, who are enrolled in heaven, and to 
God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the just 
now perfected, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New 
Testament." From that day it has begun a new life : 
I am not speaking of any moral conversion which takes 
place in it ; whether or not it is moved (as surely we 



94 Saintliness the Standard 

believe it will be) to act upon the sights which it sees, 
still consider only what a change there will be in its 
views and estimation of things, as soon as it has 
heard and has faith in the word of God, as soon as it 
understands that wealth, and notoriety, and influence, 
and high place, are not the first of blessings and the 
real standard of good ; but that saintliness and all its 
attendants, — saintly purity, saintly poverty, heroic 
fortitude and patience, self-sacrifice for the sake of 
others, renouncement of the world, the favour of 
Heaven, the protection of Angels, the smile of the 
Blessed Virgin, the gifts of grace, the interpositions 
of miracle, the intercommunion of merits, — that these 
are the high and precious things, the things to be 
looked up to, the things to be reverently spoken of. 
Hence worldly-minded men, however rich, if they are 
Catholics, cannot, till they utterly lose their faith, be 
the same as those who are external to the Church; 
they have an instinctive veneration for those who have 
the traces of heaven upon them, and they praise what 
they do not imitate. 

Such men have an idea before them which a Pro- 
testant nation has not ; they have the idea of a Saint ; 
they believe, they realize the existence of those rare 
servants of God, who rise up from time to time in the 
Catholic Church like Angels in disguise, and shed 
around them a light, as they walk on their way heaven- 
ward. Such Catholics may not in practice do what is 
right and good, but they know what is true ; they know 
what to think and how to judge. They have a standard 
for their principles of conduct, and it is the image of 



of Christian Principle. 95 

Saints which forms it for them. A Saint is born like 
another man ; by nature a child of wrath, and needing 
God's grace to regenerate him. He is baptized like 
another, he lies helpless and senseless like another, 
and like another child he comes to years of reason. 
But soon his parents and their neighbours begin to 
say, " This is a strange child, he is unlike any other 
child ; " his brothers and his playmates feel an awe of 
him, they do not know why ; they both like him and 
dislike him, perhaps love him much in spite of his 
strangeness, perhaps respect him more than they love 
him. But if there were any holy Priest there, or 
others who had long served God in prayer and obedi- 
ence, these would say, " This truly is a wonderful 
child ; this child bids fair to be a Saint." And so he 
grows up, whether at first he is duly prized by his 
parents or not ; for so it is with all greatness, that, 
because it is great, it cannot be comprehended by 
ordinary minds at once ; but time, and distance, and 
contemplation are necessary for its being recognized 
by beholders, and, therefore, this special heir of glory 
of whom I am speaking, for a time at least excites 
no very definite observation, unless indeed (as some- 
times happens) anything of miracle occurs from time 
to time to mark him out. He has come to the age of 
reason, and, wonderful to say, he has never fallen 
away into sin. Other children begin to use the gift 
of reason by abusing it; they understand what is 
right, only to go counter to it ; it is otherwise with 
him, — not that he may not sin in many things, when 
we place him in the awful ray of divine Sanctity, but 



96 Saintliness the Standard 

that he does not sin wilfully and grievously, — he is 
preserved from mortal sin, he is never separated from 
God by sin, nay, perhaps, he is betrayed only at 
intervals, or never at all, into any deliberate sin, be 
it ever so slight, and he is ever avoiding the occasions 
of sin and resisting temptation. He ever lives in the 
presence of God, and is thereby preserved from evil, 
for " the wicked one toucheth him not." Nor, again, 
as if in other and ordinary matters, he necessarily 
differed from other boys; he may be ignorant, thought- 
less, improvident of the future, rash, impetuous ; he 
is a child, and has the infirmities, failings, fears, and 
hopes of a child. He may be moved to anger, he may 
say a harsh word, he may offend his parents, he may 
be volatile and capricious, he may have no fixed view 
of things, such as a man has. This is not much to 
allow ! such things are accidents, and are compatible 
with the presence of a determinate influence of grace, 
uniting his heart to God. that the multitude of 
men were as religious in their best seasons, as the 
Saints are in their worst ! though there have been 
Saints who seemed to have been preserved even from 
the imperfections I have been mentioning. There 
have been Saints whose reason the all-powerful grace 
of God seems wonderfully to have opened from the 
very time of their baptism, so that they have offered 
to their Lord and Saviour, " a living, holy, acceptable 
sacrifice," " a rational service," even while they have 
been infants. And, anyhow, whatever are the acts 
of infirmity and sin in the child I am imagining, still 
they are the exception in his day's course; the course 



of Christian Principle. 97 

of each day is religious : while other children are 
light-minded, and cannot fix their thoughts in prayer, 
prayer and praise and meditation are his meat and 
drink. He frequents the Churches, and places himself 
before the Blessed Sacrament : or he is found before 
some holy image ; or he sees visions of the Blessed 
Virgin, or of the Saints to whom he is devoted. He 
lives in intimate converse with his guardian Angel, 
and he shrinks from the very shadow of profaneness 
or impurity. And thus he is a special witness of the 
world unseen, and he fulfils the vague ideas and the 
dreams of the supernatural, which one reads of in 
poems or romances, with which young people are so 
much taken, and after which they cannot help sighing, 
before the world corrupts them. 

He grows up, and he has just the same temptations 
as others, perhaps more violent ones. Men of this 
world, carnal men, unbelieving men, do not believe 
that the temptations which they themselves experience, 
and to which they yield, can be overcome. They reason 
themselves into the notion that to sin is their very 
nature, and, therefore, is no fault of theirs : that is, 
they deny the existence of sin. And accordingly, when 
they read about the Saints or about holy men generally, 
they conclude either that thesehavenot had the tempta- 
tions which they experienced themselves, or that they 
have not overcome them. They either consider such an 
one to be a hypocrite, who practises in private the sins 
which he denounces in public; or, if they have decency 
enough to abstain from these calumnies, then they 
consider that he never felt the temptation, and they 



98 Saint line ss the Standard 

regard him as a cold and simple person, who has never 
outgrown his childhood, who has a contracted mind, 
who does not know the world and life, who is despic- 
able while he is without influence, and dangerous and 
detestable from his very ignorance when he is in 
power. But no, my brethren ; read the lives of the 
Saints, you will see how false and narrow a view this 
is; these men, who think, forsooth, they know the 
world so well, and the nature of man so deeply, they 
know nothing of one great far-spreading phenomenon 
in man, — and that is, his nature under the operation of 
grace ; they know nothing of the second nature, of the 
supernatural gift, induced by the Almighty Spirit 
upon our first and fallen nature; they have never met, 
they have never read of, and they have formed no 
conception of, a Saint. 

He has, I say, the same temptations as another ; 
perhaps greater, because he is to be tried as in a fur- 
nace, because he is to become rich in merits, because 
there is a bright crown reserved for him in Heaven ; 
still temptation he has, and he differs from others, not 
in being shielded from it, but in being armed against it. 
Grace overcomes nature; it overcomes indeed in all who 
shall be saved : none will see God's face hereafter who 
do not, while here, put away from them mortal sin of 
every kind; but the Saints overcome'with a determina- 
tion and a vigour, a promptitude and a success, beyond 
any one else. You read, my brethren, in the lives of 
Saints, the wonderful account of their conflicts, and 
their triumphs over the enemy. They are, as I was 
saying, like heroes of romance, so gracefully, so nobly, 



of Christian Principle. 99 

so royally do they bear themselves. Their actions are 
as beautiful as fiction, yet as real as fact. There was 
St. Benedict, who, when a boy, left Eorae, and betook 
himself to the Apennines in the neighbourhood. Three 
years did he live in prayer, fasting, and solitude, while 
the Evil One assaulted him with temptation. One 
day, Avhen it grew so fierce that he feared for his per- 
severance, he suddenly flung himself, in his scanty 
hermit's garb, among the thorns and nettles near him, 
thus turning the current of his thoughts, and chastis- 
ing the waywardness of the flesh, by sensible stings 
and smarts. There was St. Thomas, too, the Angelical 
Doctor, as he is called, as holy as he was profound, or 
rather the more profound in theological science, because 
he was so holy. " Even from a youth " he had " sought 
wisdom, he had stretched out his hands on high, and 
directed his soul to her, and possessed his heart with her 
from the beginning;" and so, when the minister of Satan 
came into his very room, and no other defence was at 
hand, he seized a burning brand from the hearth, and 
drove that wicked one, scared and baffled, out of his 
presence. And there was that poor youth in the early 
persecutions, whom the impious heathen bound down 
with cords, and then brought in upon him a vision of 
evil ; and he in his agony bit off his tongue, and spit it 
out into the face of the temptress, that so the intense- 
ness of the pain might preserve him from the seduction 
Such acts as these, my brethren, are an opening of 
the heavens, a sudden gleam of supernatural brightness 
across a dark sky. They enlarge the mind with ideas 
it had not before, and they show to the multitude 



lOO Saint liness the Standard 

what God can do, and what man can be. Not that 

all Saints have been such in youth : for there are 

those on the contrary, who, not till after a youth 

of sin, have been brought by the sovereign grace 

of God to repentance, still, when once converted, 

they differed in nothing from those who had ever 

served Him, — not in supernatural gifts, not in accept- 

ableness, not in detachment from the world, nor in 

union with Christ, nor in exactness of obedience, — in 

nought save in the severity of their penance. Others 

have been called, not from vice and ungodliness, but 

from a life of mere ordinary blamelessness, or from a 

state of lukewarmness, or from thoughtlessness, to 

heroical greatness ; and these have often given up 

lands, and property, and honours, and station, and 

repute, for Christ's sake. Kings have descended 

from their thrones, bishops have given up their rank 

and influence, the learned have given up their pride 

of intellect, to become poor monks, to live on coarse 

fare, to be clad in humble weeds, to rise and pray 

while others slept, to mortify the tongue with silence 

and the limbs with toil, and to avow an unconditional 

obedience to another. In early times were the Martyrs, 

many of them girls and even children, who bore the 

most cruel, the most prolonged, the most diversified 

tortures, rather than deny the faith of Christ. Then 

came the Missionaries among the heathen, who, for 

the love of souls, threw themselves into the midst of 

savages, risking and perhaps losing their lives in the 

attempt to extend the empire of their Lord and 

Saviour, and who, whether living or dying, have by 



of Christian Principle. loi 

their lives or by their deaths succeeded in bringing 
over whole nations into the Church. Others have 
devoted themselves in the time of war or captivity, to 
the redemption of Christian slaves from pagan or 
Mahometan masters or conquerors; others to the 
care of the sick in pestilences, or in hospitals ; others 
to the instruction of the poor: others to the education 
of children; others to incessant preaching and the 
duties of the confessional ; others to devout study 
and meditation ; others to a life of intercession and 
prayer. Very various are the Saints, their very 
variety is a token of God's workmanship ; but how- 
ever various, and whatever was their special line of 
duty, they have been heroes in it ; they have attained 
such noble self-command, they have so crucified the 
flesh, they have so renounced the world ; they are so 
meek, so gentle, so tender-hearted, so merciful, so 
sweet, so cheerful, so full of prayer, so diligent, so 
forgetful of injuries ; they have sustained such great 
and continued pains, they have persevered in such 
vast labours, they have made such valiant confessions, 
they have wrought such abundant miracles, they have 
been blessed with such strange successes, that they 
have been the means of setting up a standard before us 
of truth, of magnanimity, of holiness, of love. They 
are not always our examples, we are not always bound 
to follow them ; not more than we are bound to obey 
literally some of our Lord's precepts, such as turning 
the cheek or giving away the coat ; not more than we 
can follow the course of the sun, moon, or stars in 
the heavens ; but, though not always our examples. 



I02 Saintliness the Standard 

they are always our standard of right and good ; they 
are raised up to be monuments and lessons, they re- 
mind us of God, they introduce us into the unseen 
world, they teach us what Christ loves, they track 
out for us the way which leads heavenward. They 
are to us who see them, what wealth, notoriety, rank, 
and name are to the multitude of men who live in 
darkness, — objects of our veneration and of our 
homage. 

who can doubt between the two? The national 
religion has many attractions; it leads to decency 
and order, propriety of conduct, justness of thought, 
beautiful domestic tastes ; but it has not power to lead 
the multitude upward, or to delineate for them the 
Heavenly City. It comes of mere nature, and its teach- 
ing is of nature. It uses religious words, of course, 
else it could not be called a religion ; but it does not 
impress on the imagination, it does not engrave upon 
the heart, it does not inflict upon the conscience, the 
supernatural ; it does not introduce into the popular 
mind any great ideas, such as are to be recognized 
by one and all, as common property, and first prin- 
ciples or dogmas from which to start, to be taken for 
granted on aU hands, and handed down as forms 
and specimens of eternal truth from age to age. It 
in no true sense inculcates the Unseen; and by 
consequence, sights of this world, material tangible 
objects, become the idols and the ruin of its children, 
of souls which were made for God and Heaven. It 
is powerless to resist the world and the world's teach- 
ing : it cannot supplant error by truth ; it foUows 



of Christian Principle. 103 

when it should lead. There is but one real Antagonist 
of the world, and that is the faith of Catholics; — 
Christ set that faith up, and it will do its work on 
earth, as it ever has done, till He comes again. 



DISCOURSE VI. 

GOD'S WILL THE END OF LIFE, 

T AM going to ask you a question, my dear brethren, 
-*- so trite, and therefore so uninteresting at first 
sight, that you may wonder why I put it, and may 
object that it will be difficult to fix the mind on it, and 
may anticipate that nothing profitable can be made of 
it. It is this : — " Why were you sent into the world ? " 
Yet, after all, it is perhaps a thought more obvious 
than it is common, more easy than it is familiar ; I 
mean it ought to come into your minds, but it does 
not, and you never had more than a distant acquaint- 
ance with it, though that sort of acquaintance with it 
you have had for many years. Kay, once or twice, 
perhaps you have been thrown across the thought 
somewhat intimately, for a short season, but this was 
an accident which did not last. There are those who 
recollect the first time, as it would seem, when it came 
home to them. They were but little children, and 
they were by themselves, and they spontaneously 
asked themselves, or rather God spake in them, 
" Why am I here ? how came I here ? who brought 
me here ? What am I to do here ? " Perhaps it was 



God 's Will the End of Life. 105 

the first act of reason, the beginning of their real 
responsibility, the commencement of their trial ; per- 
haps from that day they may date their capacity, their 
awful power, of choosing between good and evil, and 
of committing mortal sin. And so, as life goes on, 
the thought comes vividly, from time to time, for a 
short season across their conscience ; whether in illness, 
or in some anxiety, or at some season of solitude, or 
on hearing some preacher, or reading some religious 
work. A vivid feeling comes over them of the vanity 
and unprofitableness of the v/orld, and then the ques- 
tion recurs, " Why then am I sent into it ? " 

And a great contrast indeed does this vain, unpro- 
fitable, yet overbearing world present with such a 
question as that. It seems out of place to ask such 
a question in so magnificent, so imposing a presence, 
as that of the great Babylon. The world professes to 
supply all that we need, as if we were sent into it for 
the sake of being sent here, and for nothing beyond 
the sending. It is a great favour to have an introduc- 
tion to this august world. This is to be our exposition, 
forsooth, of the mystery of life. Every man is doing 
his own will here, seeking his own pleasure, pursuing 
his own ends, and that is why he was brought into 
existence. Go abroad into the streets of the populous 
city, contemplate the continuous outpouring there of 
human energy, and the countless varieties of human 
character, and be satisfied ! The ways are thronged, 
carriage-way and pavement ; multitudes are hurrying 
to and fro, each on his own errand, or are loitering 
about from listlessness, or from want of work, or have 



io6 God's Will the End of Life. 

come forth into the public concourse, to see and to be 
seen, for amusement or for display, or on the excuse 
of business. The carriages of the wealthy mingle 
with the slow wains laden with provisions or merchan- 
dise, the productions of art or the demands of luxury. 
The streets are lined with shops, open and gay, invit- 
ing customers, and widen now and then into some 
spacious square or place, with lofty masses of brick- 
work or of stone, gleaming in the fitful sunbeam, and 
surrounded or fronted with what simulates a garden's 
foliage. Follow them in another direction, and you 
find the whole groundstead covered with large build- 
ings, planted thickly up and down, the homes of the 
mechanical arts. The air is filled, below, with a 
ceaseless, importunate, monotonous din, which pene- 
trates even to your most innermost chamber, and 
rings in your ears even when you are not conscious of 
it ; and overhead, with a canopy of smoke, shrouding 
God's day from the realms of obstinate sullen toil. 
This is the end of man ! 

Or stay at home, and take up one of those daily 
prints, which are so true a picture of the world ; look 
down the columns of advertisements, and you will 
see the catalogue of pursuits, projects, aims, anxieties, 
amusements, indulgences which occupy the mind of 
man. He plays many parts : here he has goods to 
sell, there he wants employment; there again he 
seeks to borrow money, here he offers you houses, 
great seats or small tenements ; he has food for the 
million, and luxuries for the wealthy, and sovereign 
medicines for the credulous, and books, new and 



God V Will the End of L ife. i o 7 

clieap, for the inquisitive. Pass on to the news of the 
day, and you will learn what great men are doing at 
home and abroad : you will read of wars and rumours 
of wars ; of debates in the Legislature ; of rising men, 
and old statesmen going off the scene ; of political 
contests in this city or that county ; of the collision 
of rival interests. You will read of the money 
market, and the provision market, and the market 
for metals ; of the state of trade, the call for manu- 
factures, news of ships arrived in port, of accidents at 
sea, of exports and imports, of gains and losses, of 
frauds and their detection. Go forward, and you 
arrive at discoveries in art and science, discoveries 
(so-called) in religion, the court and royalty, the 
entertainments of the great, places of amusement, 
strange trials, offences, accidents, escapes, exploits, 
experiments, contests, ventures. this curious, 
restless, clamorous, panting being, which we call 
life ! — and is there to be no end to all this ? Is 
there no object in it? It never has an end, it is 
forsooth its own object ! 

And now, once more, my brethren, put aside what 
you see and what you read of the world, and try to 
penetrate into the hearts, and to reach the ideas and 
the feehngs of those who constitute it ; look into 
them as closely as you can ; enter into their houses 
and private rooms ; strike at random through the 
streets and lanes : take as they come, palace and 
hovel, office or factory, and what will you find ? 
Listen to their words, witness, alas ! their works ; 
you will find in the main the same lawless thoughts. 



io8 God's Will the End of Life. 

the same unrestrained desires, the same ungoverned 
passions, the same earthly opinions, the same wilful 
deeds, in high and low, learned and unlearned ; you 
will find them all to be living for the sake of living ; 
they one and all seem to tell you, " We are our own 
centre, our own end." Why are they toiling ? why 
are they scheming ? for what are they living ? " We 
live to please ourselves ; life is worthless except we 
have our own way ; we are not s(int here at all, but 
we find ourselves here, and we are but slaves unless 
we can think what we will, believe what we will, love 
what we will, hate what we will, do what we will. 
We detest interference on the part of God or man. 
We do not bargain to be rich or to be great ; but we 
do bargain, whether rich or poor, high or low, to live 
for ourselves, to live for the lust of the moment, or, 
according to the doctrine of the hour, thinking of the 
future and the unseen just as much or as little as we 
please." 

my brethren, is it not a shocking thought, but 
who can deny its truth ? The multitude of men are 
living without any aim beyond this visible scene ; 
they may from time to time use religious words, or 
they may profess a communion or a worship, as a 
matter of course, or of expedience, or of duty, but, if 
there was any sincerity in such profession, the course 
of the world could not run as it does. Wliat a con- 
trast is all this to the end of life, as it is set before us 
in our most holy Faith ! If there was one among the 
sons of men, who might allowably have taken His 
. pleasure, and have done His own will here below. 



God's Will the End of Life. 109 

surely it was He who came down on earth from the 
bosom of the Father, and who was so pure and spot- 
less in that human nature which He put on Him, that 
He could have no human purpose or aim inconsistent 
with the will of His Father. Yet He, the Son of 
God, the Eternal Word, came, not to do His own 
will, but His who sent Him, as you know very well 
is told us again and again in Scripture. Thus the 
Prophet in the Psalter, speaking in His person, says, 
" Lo, I come to do Thy will, God." And He says 
in the Prophet Isaias, " The Lord God hath opened 
Mine ear, and I do not resist ; I have not gone back." 
And in the Gospel, when He had come on earth, 
" My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, 
and to finish His w^ork." Hence, too, in His agony. 
He cried out, "Not My will, but Thine, be done;" 
and St. Paul, in like manner, says, that " Christ 
pleased not Himself;" and elsewhere, that, "though 
He was God's Son, yet learned He obedience by the 
things which He suffered." Surely so it was ; as 
being indeed the Eternal Co-equal Son, His will was 
one and the same with the Father's will, and He had 
no submission of will to make ; but He chose to take 
on Him man's nature, and the will of that nature ; 
He chose to take on Him affections, feelings, and 
inclinations proper to man, a will innocent indeed 
and good, but still a man's will, distinct from God's 
will ; a will, which, had it acted simply according to 
what was pleasing to its nature, would, when pain and 
toil were to be endured, have held back from an active 
co-operation with the will of God. But, though He 



I lo God's Will the End of Life. 

took on Himself the nature of man, He took not on 
Him that selfishness, with which fallen man wraps 
himself round, but in all things He devoted Himself 
as a ready sacrifice to His Father. He came on 
€arth, not to take His pleasure, not to follow His 
taste, not for the mere exercise of human affection, 
but simply to glorify His Father and to do His will. 
He came charged with a mission, deputed for a 
work ; He looked not to the right nor to the left, 
He thought not of Himself, He offered Himself up 
to God. 

Hence it is that He was carried in the womb of a 
poor woman, who, before His birth, had two journeys 
to make, of love and of obedience, to the mountains 
and to Bethlehem. He was born in a stable, and laid 
in a manger. He was hurried off to Egypt to sojourn 
there ; then He lived till He was thirty years of age 
in a poor way, by a rough trade, in a small house, in 
a despised town. Then, when He went out to preach, 
He had not where to lay His head ; He wandered up 
and down the country, as a stranger upon earth. He 
was driven out into the wilderness, and dwelt among 
the wild beasts. He endured heat and cold, hunger 
and weariness, reproach and calumny. His food was 
coarse bread, and fish from the lake, or depended on 
the hospitality of strangers. And as He had already 
left His Father's greatness on high, and had chosen 
an earthly home ; so again, at that Father's bidding, 
He gave up the sole solace given Him in this world, 
and denied Himself His Mother's presence. He 
parted with her who bore Him ; He endured to be 



God's Will the End of Life. 1 1 1 

strange to her; He endured to call her coldly 
*' woman," who was His own undefiled one, all 
beautiful, all gracious, the best creature of His hands, 
and the sweet nurse of His infancy. He put her 
aside, as Levi, His type, merited the sacred ministry, 
by saying to His parents and kinsmen, " I know you 
not." He exemplified in His own person the severe 
maxim, which He gave to His diciples, "He that 
loveth mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." 
In all these many ways He sacrificed every wish of 
His own ; that we might understand, that, if He, the 
Creator, came into His own world, not for His own 
pleasure, but to do His Father's will, we too have 
most surely some work to do, and have seriously to 
bethink ourselves what that work is. 

Yes, so it is ; realize it, my brethren ; — every one 
who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, 
young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has 
a work. We are not sent into this world for nothinu; 
we are not born at random ; we are not here, that we 
may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, 
toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin 
when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired 
of sinning, rear a family and die. God sees every one 
of us ; He creates every soul, He lodges it in the body, 
one by one, for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to 
need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; 
we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in 
our different ranks and stations, not to get what we 
can out of them for ourselves, but to labour in them 
for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours ; 



112 God 's Will the End of Life. 

as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours 
also. 

St. Paul on one occasion speaks of the world as a 
scene in a theatre. Consider what is meant by this. 
You know, actors on a stage are on an equality with 
each other really, but for the occasion they assume a 
difference of character ; some are high, some are low, 
some are merry, and some sad. Well, would it 
not be a simple absurdity in any actor to pride him- 
self on his mock diadem, or his edgeless sword, 
instead of attending to his part ? what, if he did but 
gaze at himself and his dress ? what, if he secreted, 
or turned to his own use, what was valuable in it ? 
Is it not his business, and nothing else, to act his 
part well ? common sense tells us so. Now we are 
all but actors in this world; we are one and all equal, 
we shall be judged as equals as soon as life is over ; 
yet, equal and similar in ourselves, each has his 
special part at present, each has his work, each has 
his mission, — not to indulge his passions, not to 
make money, not to get a name in the world, not to 
save himself trouble, not to follow his bent, not to be 
selfish and self-willed, but to do what God puts on 
him to do. 

Look at that poor profligate in the Gospel, look at 
Dives ; do you think he understood that his wealth 
was to be spent, not on himself, but for the glory of 
God ? — yet for forgetting this, he was lost for ever 
and ever. I will tell you what he thought, and how 
he viewed things: — he was a young man, and had 
sueceeded to a good estate, and he determined to 



God's Will the End of Life. 113 

enjoy himself. It did not strike him that his wealth 
had any other use than that of enabling him to take 
his pleasure. Lazarus lay at his gate ; he might 
have relieved Lazarus ; that was God's will ; but he 
managed to put conscience aside, and he persuaded 
himself he should be a fool, if he did not make the 
most of this world, while he had the means. So he 
resolved to have his fill of pleasure; and feasting was 
to his mind a principal part of it. " He fared sump- 
tuously every day;" everything belonging to him was 
in the best style, as men speak ; his house, his furni- 
ture, his plate of silver and gold, his attendants, his 
establishments. Everything was for enjoyment, and 
for show too ; to attract the eyes of the world, and to 
gain the applause and admiration of his equals, who 
were the companions of his sins. These companions 
were doubtless such as became a person of such pre- 
tensions ; they were fashionable men ; a collection of 
refined, high-bred, haughty men, eating, not glutton- 
ously, but what was rare and costly ; delicate, exact, 
fastidious in their taste, from their very habits of 
indulgence ; not eating for the mere sake of eating, 
or drinking for the mere sake of drinking, but making 
a sort of science of their sensuality ; sensual, carnal, 
as flesh and blood can be, with eyes, ears, tongue, 
steeped in impurity, every thought, look, and sense, 
witnessing or ministering to the evil one who ruled 
them ; yet, with exquisite correctness of idea and 
judgment, laying down rules for sinning ; — heartless 
and selfish, high, punctilious, and disdainful in their 
outward deportment, and shrinking from Lazarus, 



114 God's Will the End of Life. 

who lay at the gate, as an eye-sore, who ought for the 
sake of deceucy to be put out of the way. Dives was 
one of such, and so he lived his short span, thinking 
of nothing, loving nothing, but himself, till one day 
he got into a fatal quarrel with one of his godless as- 
sociates, or he caught some bad illness ; and then he 
lay helpless on his bed of pain, cursing fortune and 
his physician, that he was no better, and impatient 
that he was thus kept from enjoying his youth, trying 
to fancy himself mending when he was getting worse, 
and disgusted at those who would not throw him 
some word of comfort in his suspense, and turning 
more resolutely from his Creator in proportion to his 
suffering ; — and then at last his day came, and he 
died, and (Oh ! miserable !) " was buried in hell." And 
so ended he and his mission. 

This was the fate of your pattern and idol, ye, if 
any of you be present, young men, who, though not 
possessed of wealth and rank, yet affect the fashions 
of those who have them. You, my brethren, have not 
been born splendidly or nobly ; you have not been 
brought up in the seats of liberal education ; you 
have no high connexions ; you have not learned the 
manners nor caught the tone of good society ; you 
have no share of the largeness of mind, the candour, 
the romantic sense of honour, the correctness of taste, 
the consideration for others, and the gentleness which 
the world puts forth as its highest type of excellence; 
you have not come near the courts or the mansions of 
the great; yet you ape the sin of Dives, while you are 
strangers to his refinement. You think it the sign of 



God's Will the End of Life. 115 

a gentleman to set yourselves above religion, to 
criticize the religious and professors of religion, to look 
at Catholic and Methodist with impartial contempt, 
to gain a smattering of knowledge on a number of 
subjects, to dip into a number of frivolous publica- 
tions, if they are popular, to have read the latest 
novel, to have heard the singer and seen the actor of 
the day, to be well up with the news, to know the names 
and, if so be, the persons of public men, to be able to 
bow to them, to walk up and down the street with 
your heads on high, and to stare at whatever meets 
you ; and to say and do worse things, of which these 
outward extravagances are but the symbol And this 
is what you conceive you have come upon earth for ! 
The Creator made you, it seems, my children, for 
this work and office, to be a bad imitation of polished 
ungodliness, to be a piece of tawdry and faded finery, 
or a scent which has lost its freshness, and does but 
offend the sense ! ! that you could see how absurd 
and base are such pretences in the eyes of any but 
yourselves ! No calling of life but is honourable ; no 
one is ridiculous who acts suitably to his calling and 
estate ; no one, who has good sense and humility, but 
may, in any station of life, be truly well-bred and 
refined; but ostentation, affectation, and ambitious 
efforts are, in every station of life, high or low, 
nothing but vulgarities. Put them aside, despise 
them yourselves, my very dear sons, whom I love, 
and whom I would fain serve ; — oh ! that you could feel 
that you have souls ! oh, that you would have mercy 
on your souls ! oh, that, before it is too late, you 



ii6 God's Will the End of Life. 

would betake yourselves to Him who is the Source of 
all that is truly high and magnificent and beautiful, 
all that is bright and pleasant, and secure what you 
ignorantly seek, in Him whom you so wilfully, so 
awfully despise ! 

He alone, the Son of God, " the brightness of the 
Eternal Light, and the spotless mirror of His. 
Majesty," is the source of all good and all happiness 
to rich and poor, high and low. If you were ever so 
high, you would need Him ; if you were ever so low, 
you could offend Him. The poor can offend Him ; 
the poor man can neglect his divinely appointed 
mission as well as the rich. Do not suppose, my 
brethren, that what I have said against the upper or 
the middle class, will not, if you happen to be poor, 
also lie against you. Though a man were as poor as 
Lazarus, he could be as guilty as Dives. If .you are 
resolved to degrade yourselves to the brutes of the 
field, who have no reason and no conscience, you need 
not wealth or rank to enable you to do so. Brutes 
have no wealth; they have no pride of life; they have 
no purple and fine linen, no splendid table, no 
retinue of servants, and yet they are brutes. They are 
brutes by the law of their nature: they are the poorest 
among the poor ; there is not a vagrant and outcast 
who is so poor as they ; they differ from him, not in 
their possessions, but in their want of a soul, in that 
he has a mission and they have not, he can sin and 
they can not. my brethren, it stands to reason, 
a man may intoxicate himself with a cheap draught, 
as well as with a costly one ; he may steal another's 



God's Will the End of Life. 117 

money for his appetites, though he does not waste his 
own upon them ; he may break through the natural 
and social laws which encircle him, and profane the 
sanctity of family duties, though he be, not a child of 
nobles, but a peasant or artisan, — nay, and perhaps 
he does so more frequently than they. This is not 
the poor's blessedness, that he has less temptations to 
self-indulgence, for he has as many, but that from 
his circumstances he receives the penances and 
corrections of self-indulgence. Poverty is the mother 
of many pains and sorrows in their season, and these 
are God's messengers to lead the soul to repentance ; 
but, alas ! if the poor man indulges his passions, 
thinks little of religion, puts off repentance, refuses 
to make an effort, and dies without conversion, it 
matters nothing that he was poor in this world, it 
matters nothing that he was less daring than the 
rich, it matters not that he promised himself God's 
favour, that he sent for the Priest when death came, 
and received the last Sacraments ; Lazarus too, in 
that case, shall be buried with Dives in hell, and 
shall have had his consolation neither in this world 
nor in the world to come. 

My brethren, the simple question is, whatever a 
man's rank in life may be, does he in that rank per- 
form the work which God has given him to do ? Now 
then, let me turn to others, of a very different descrip- 
tion, and let me hear what they will say, when the 
question is asked them; — why, they will parry it thus: 
— " You give us no alternative," they will say to me, 
" except that of being sinners or Saints. You p^t 



ii8 God's Will the End of Life. 

before us our Lord's pattern, and you spread before us 
the guilt and the ruin of the deliberate transgressor ; 
whereas we have no intention of going so far one way 
or the other ; we do not aim at being Saints, but we 
have no desire at all to be sinners. We neither intend 
to disobey God's will, nor to give up our own. Surely 
there is a middle way, and a safe one, in which God's 
will and our will may both be satisfied. We mean to 
enjoy both this world and the next. We will guard 
against mortal sin ; we are not obliged to guard 
against venial; indeed it would be endless to attempt 
it. None but Saints do so ; it is the work of a life ; 
we need have nothing else to do. We are not monks, 
we are in the world, we are in business, we are parents, 
we have families ; we must live for the day. It is a 
consolation to keep from mortal sin ; that we do, and 
it is enough for salvation. It is a great thing to keep 
in God's favour ; what indeed can we desire more ? 
We come at due time to the Sacraments ; this is our 
comfort and our stay ; did we die, we should die in 
grace, and escape the doom of the wicked. But if we 
once attempted to go further, where should we stop ? 
how will you draw the line for us ? the line between 
mortal and venial sin is very distinct ; we understand 
that ; but do you not see that, if we attended to our 
venial sins, there would be just as much reason to 
attend to one as to another ? If we began to repress 
our anger, why not also repress vainglory ? why not 
also guard against niggardliness ? why not also keep 
from falsehood ? from gossiping, from idling, from 
excess in eating ? And, after all, without venial sin we 



God's Will the End of Life. 119 

never can be, unless indeed we have the prerogative of 
the Mother of God, which it would be almost heresy 
to ascribe to any one but her. You are not asking us 
to be converted; that we understand; we are converted, 
we were converted a long time ago. You bid us aim 
at an indefinite vague something, which is less than 
perfection, yet more than obedience, and which, 
without resulting in any tangible advantage, debars 
us from the pleasures and embarrasses us in the duties 
of this world." 

This is what you will say ; but your premisses, my 
brethren, are better than your reasoning, and your 
conclusions will not stand. You have a right view 
why God has sent you into the world, viz., in order 
that you may get to heaven ; it is quite true also that 
you would fare well indeed if you found yourselves 
there, you could desire nothing better ; nor, it is true, 
can you live any time without venial sin. It is true 
also that you are not obliged to aim at being Saints ; 
it is no sin not to aim at perfection. So much is true 
and to the purpose ; but it does not follow from it that 
you, with such views and feelings as you have ex- 
pressed, are using sufficient exertions even for attain- 
ing to purgatory. Has your religion any difficulty in 
it, or is it in all respects easy to you ? Are you simply 
taking your own pleasure in your mode of living, or 
do you find your pleasure in submitting yourself to 
God's pleasure? In a word, is your religion a work? 
for if it be not, it is not religion at all. Here at once, 
before going into your argument, is a proof that it is 
an unsound one, because it brings you to the conclusion 



I20 God's Will the End of Life. 

that, whereas Christ came to do a work, and all Saints, 
nay, nay, and sinners do a work too, you, on the con- 
trary, have no work to do, because, forsooth, you 
are neither sinners nor Saints ; or, if you once had a 
work, at least that you have despatched it already, and 
you have nothing upon your hands. You have attained 
your salvation, it seems, before your time, and have 
nothing to occupy you, and are detained on earth too 
long. The work days are over, and your perpetual 
holiday is begun. Did then God send you, above all 
other men, into the world to be idle in spiritual 
matters ? Is it your mission only to find pleasure 
in this world, in which you are but as pilgrims and 
sojourners ? Are you more than sons of Adam, who, 
by the sweat of their brow, are to eat bread till they 
return to the earth out of which they are taken ? 
Unless you have some work in hand, unless you are 
struggling, unless you are fighting with yourselves, 
you are no followers of those who " through many 
tribulations entered into the kingdom of God." A 
fight is the very token of a Christian. He is a soldier 
of Christ ; high or low, he is this and nothing else. 
If you have triumphed over all mortal sin, as you 
seem to think, then you must attack your venial sins; 
there is no help for it ; there is nothing else to do, if 
you would be soldiers of Jesus Christ. But, simple 
souls ! to think you have gained any triumph at all ! 
No : you cannot safely be at peace wdth any, even the 
least malignant, of the foes of God ; if you are at 
peace with venial sins, be certain that in their com- 
pany and under their shadow mortal sins are lurking. 



God's Will the End of Life. 121 

Mortal sins are the cliildren of venial, which, though 
they be not deadly themselves, yet are prolific of death. 
You may think that you have killed the giants who 
had possession of your hearts, and that you have 
nothing to fear, but may sit at rest under your vine 
and under your fig-tree ; but the giants will live 
again, they will rise from the dust, and, before you 
know where you are, you will be taken captive and 
slaughtered by the fierce, powerful, and eternal enemies 
of God. 

The end of a thing is the test. It was our Lord's 
rejoicing in His last solemn hour, that He had done 
the work for which He was sent. " I have glorified 
Thee on earth," He says in His prayer, " I have 
finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do ; I 
have manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou 
hast given Me out of the world." It was St. Paul's 
consolation also; "I have fought the good fight, I have 
finished the course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth 
there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the 
Lord shall render to me in that day, the just Judge." 
Alas ! alas ! how different will be our view of things 
when we come to die, or when we have passed into 
eternity, from the dreams and pretences with which 
we beguile ourselves now ! What will Babel do for 
us then ? Will it rescue our souls from the purga- 
tory or the hell to which it sends them ? If we were 
created, it was that we might serve God ; if we have 
His gifts, it is that we may glorify Him ; if we have 
a conscience, it is that we may obey it; if we have the 
prospect of heaven, it is that we may keep it before 



122 God's Will the End. of Life. 

us ; if we have light, that we may follow it ; if we 
have grace, that we may save ourselves by means of it. 
Alas ! alas ! for those who die without fulfilling their 
mission ! who were called to be holy, and lived in sin ; 
who were called to worship Christ, and who plunged 
into this giddy and unbelieving world ; who were 
called to fight, and who remained idle; who were 
called to be Catholics, and who did but remain in the 
religion of their birth ! Alas for those who have had 
gifts and talents, and have not used, or have misused, 
or abused them ; who have had wealth, and have spent 
it on themselves ; who have had abilities, and have 
advocated what was sinful, or ridiculed what was true, 
or scattered doubts against what was sacred; who have 
had leisure, and have wasted it on wicked companions, 
or evil books, or foolish amusements ! Alas ! for those, 
of whom the best that can be said is, that they are 
harmless and naturally blameless, while they never 
have attempted to cleanse their hearts or to live in 
God's sight ! 

The world goes on from age to age, but the holy 
Angels and blessed Saints are always crying alas I 
alas ! and woe ! woe ! over the loss of vocations, and 
the disappointment of hopes, and the scorn of God's 
love, and the ruin of souls. One generation succeeds 
another, and whenever they look down upon earth 
from their golden thrones, they see scarcely anything 
but a multitude of guardian spirits, downcast and sad, 
each following his own charge, in anxiety, or in terror, 
or in despair, vainly endeavouring to shield him from 
the enemy, and failing because he will not be shielded. 



God's Will the End of Life. 123 

Times come and go, and man will not believe, that 
that is to be which is not yet, or that what now is 
only continues for a season, and is not eternity. The 
end is the trial; the world passes; it is but a pageant 
and a scene ; the lofty palace crumbles, the busy city 
is mute, the ships of Tarshish have sped away. On 
heart and flesh death is coming ; the veil is breaking. 
Departing soul, how hast thou used thy talents, thy 
opportunities, the light poured around thee, the warn- 
ings given thee, the grace inspired into thee ? my 
Lord and Saviour, support me in that hour in the 
strong arms of Thy Sacraments, and by the fresh 
fragrance of Thy consolations. Let the absolving 
words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal 
me, and Thy own Body be my food, and Thy Blood 
my sprinkling ; and let my sweet Mother Mary 
breathe on me, and my Angel whisper peace to me, 
and my glorious Saints, and my own dear Father, 
Philip, smile on me ; that in them all, and through 
them all, I may receive the gift of perseverance, and 
die, as I desire to live, in Thy faith, in Thy Church, 
in Thy service, and in Thy love. 



DISCOURSE VII. 

PERSEVERANCE IN GRACE. 

npHEEE is no truth, my brethren, whicli Holy 
-*- Church is more earnest in impressing upon us 
than that our salvation from first to last is the gift of 
God. It is true indeed that we merit eternal life by 
our works of obedience ; but that those works are 
meritorious of such a reward, this takes place, not 
from their intrinsic worth, but from the free appoint- 
ment and bountiful promise of God; and that we are 
able to do them at all, is the simple result of His 
grace. That we are justified is of His grace ; that we 
have the dispositions for justification is of His grace; 
that we are able to do good works when justified is of 
His grace; and that we persevere in those good works 
is of His grace. Not only do we actually depend on 
His power from first to last, but our destinies depend 
on His sovereign pleasure and inscrutable counsel. 
He holds the arbitration of our future in His hands ; 
without an act of His wiil, independent of ours, we 
should not have been brought into the grace of the 
Catholic Church ; and without a further act of His 
will, though we are now members of it, we shall not 



Perseverance in Grace. 125 

be brought on to the glory of the kingdom of Heaven. 
Though a soul justified can merit eternal life, yet 
neither can it merit to be justified, nor can it merit to 
remain justified to the end ; not only is a state of 
grace the condition and the life of all merit, but 
grace brings us into that state of grace, and grace 
continues us in it ; and thus, as I began by saying, 
our salvation from first to last is the gift of God, 

Precise and absolute as is the teaching of Holy 
Church concerning the sovereign grace of God, she is 
as clear and as earnest in teaching also that we are 
really free and responsible. Every one upon earth 
might, without any verbal evasion, be saved, as far a& 
God's assistances are concerned. Every man born of 
Adam's seed, simply and truly, might save himself, if 
he would, and every man might will to save himself ; 
for grace is given to every one for this end. How 
it is, however, that in spite of this real freedom of 
man's will, our salvation still depends so absolutely 
on God's good pleasure, is unrevealed ; divines have 
devised various modes of reconciling two truths which 
at first sight seem so contrary to each other; and 
these explanations have severally been received by 
some theologians, and not received by others, and do 
not concern us now. How man is able fully and 
entirely to do what he will, while God accomplishes 
His own supreme will also, is hidden from us, as it is 
hidden from us how God created out of nothing, or 
how He foresees the future, or how His attribute of 
justice is compatible with His attribute of love. It 
is one of those "hidden things which belong unto 



126 Perseverance in Grace. 

the Lord our God ; " but " what are revealed," as the 
inspired writer goes on to say, " are for us and our 
children even for everlasting." And this is what is 
revealed, viz. : — on the one hand, that our salvation 
depends on ourselves, and on the other, that it de- 
pends on God. Did we not depend on ourselves, we 
should become careless and reckless, nothing we did 
or did not do having any bearing on our salvation ; 
did we not depend on God, we should be presump- 
tuous and self-sufficient. I began by telling you, 
my brethren, and I shall proceed in what is to come 
more distinctly to tell you, that you depend upon 
God ; but such admonitions necessarily imply your 
dependence upon yourselves also ; for, did not your 
salvation in some sufficient sense depend on your- 
selves, what would be the use of appealing to you not 
to forget your dependence on God? It is because 
you have so great a share in your own salvation, that 
it avails, that it is pertinent, to speak to you of God's 
part in it. 

He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the 
ending, as of all things, so of our salvation. We 
should have lived and died, every one of us, destitute 
of all saving knowledge and love of Him, but for a 
gift which we could not do anything ourselves to 
secure, had we lived ever so well, — but for His grace ; 
and now that we have known Him, and have been 
cleansed from our sins by Him, it is quite certain 
that we cannot do anything, even with the help of 
grace, to purchase for ourselves perseverance injustice 
and sanctity, though we live ever so well. His grace 



Perseverance in G^'ace. 127 

begins the work, His grace also finishes it ; and now 
I am going to speak to you of His finishing it ; I 
mean of the necessity under which we lie of His finish- 
ing it ; else it will never be finished, or rather will 
be reversed ; I am going to speak to you of the gift 
of perseverance in grace, of its extreme preciousness, 
and of our utter hopelessness, in spite of all that we 
are, without it. 

It is this gift which our Lord speaks of, when He 
prays His Father for His disciples, before He departs 
from them : " Holy Father, keef in Thy name those 
whom Thou hast given Me ; . . . I ask not that Thou 
take them out of the world, but that Thou preserve 
them from evil." And St. Paul intends it when he 
declares to the Philippians that " He who had begun 
a good work " in His disciples, " would perfect it unto 
the day of Christ Jesus." St. Peter, too, when he 
says in like manner, that " God, who had called His 
brethren into His eternal glory, would perfect, confirm, 
and establish them." And so the Prophet in the 
Psalms prays that God would " perfect his walking 
in His paths, that his steps might not be moved ; " 
and the Prophet Jeremias declares in God's name, " I 
will put My fear in their hearts, that they draw not 
back from Me." In these and many other passages 
of Scripture the blessing spoken of is the gift of final 
perseverance, and I will tell you how and why it is 
necessary. 

This is what we find to be the case, not only in 
matters of religion, but of this world, viz., that, let a 
person do a thing ever so well, the chance is that he 



128 Perseverance in Grace. 

will not be able to do it a number of times runnin<y 
without a mistake. Let a person be ever so good an 
accountant, he will add up a sum wrongly now and 
then, though you could not guess beforehand when or 
why he was to fail. Let him get by heart a number 
of lines ever so perfectly, and say them accurately over^ 
yet it does not follow that he will say them a dozen 
times and be accurate throughout. So it is with our 
religious duties ; we may be able to keep from every 
sin in particular as the particular temptation comes, 
but this does not hinder its being certain that we shall 
not in fact keep from all sins, though that " all " is 
made up of those particular sins. This is how the 
greatest Saints come to commit venial or lesser sins, 
though grace they have sufficient to keep them from 
any sin whatever. It is the result of human frailty ; 
nothing could keep the Saints from such falls, light as 
they may be, but a special prerogative, and this, the 
Church teaches, has been granted to the Blessed 
Virgin, and apparently to her alone. Now these lesser 
or venial sins do not separate the soul from God, or 
forfeit its perseverance in grace ; and they are per- 
mitted by the Giver of all grace for a good purpose, 
to humble us, and to give us an incentive to works of 
penance. No exemption then from these is given us, 
because it is not necessary in order to our perseverance 
that we should be exempted; on the other hand, what 
is most necessary is, that we should be preserved from 
mortal sins, yet here too that very difficulty besets us 
in our warfare with them which meets us in the case 
of venial. Here too, though a man may have grace 



Perseverance in Grace. 129 

sufficient to keep him clear of all mortal sins whatever, 
taken one by one, still we may prophesy surely, that 
the hour will come, sooner or later, when he will 
neglect and baffle that grace, unless he has some 
further gift bestowed on him to guard him against 
himself. He needs grace to use grace; he needs 
something over and above to secure his being faithful 
to what he has already. And he needs it imperatively ; 
for, since even one mortal sin separates from God, he 
is in immediate risk of his salvation, if he has it not. 
This additional gift is called the gift of perseverance; 
and it consists in an ever- watchful superintendence of 
us, on the part of our All-merciful Lord, removing 
temptations which He sees will be fatal to us, succour- 
ing us at those times when we are in particular peril, 
whether from our negligence or other cause, and order- 
ing the course of our life so, that we may die at a time 
when He sees that we are in a state of grace. And, 
since it is so simply necessary for us, God grants it 
to us ; nay, did He not, no one could be saved. He 
grants it to us, though He does not grant even to 
Saints the prerogative of avoiding every venial sin ; 
He grants it, out of His bounty, to our prayers, though 
we cannot merit it by anything we do for Him or say 
to Him, even with the aid of His grace. 

What a lesson of humility and watchfulness have 
we in this doctrine as now explained ! It is one ground 
of humiliation, that, do what we will, strive as we will, 
we cannot escape from lesser sins while we are on 
earth. Though the aids which God gives us are 

sufficient to enable us to live without sin, yet our 

9 



130 Perseverance in Grace. 

infirmity of will and of attention is a match for them, 
and we do not do in fact that which we might do. 
And again, what is not only humbling, but even 
frightful and appalling, we are in danger of mortal 
sin as well as in certainty of venial ; and the only 
reason why we are not in certainty of mortal is, that 
an extraordinary gift is given to those who supplicate 
for it, to secure them from mortal, though no such 
extraordinary gift is given to secure them from venial. 
In spite of the presence of grace in our souls, in spite 
of the actual assistances given us, we owe any hope we 
have of heaven, not to that inward grace simply, nor to 
those aids, but, I repeat, to a supplementary mercy 
which protects us against ourselves, rescues us from 
occasions of sin, strengthens us in our hour of danger, 
and ends our days at that very time, perhaps cuts 
short our life in order to secure a time, when no 
mortal sin has separated us from God. Nothing we 
are, nothing we do, is any guarantee to us that this 
supplementary mercy has been accorded to us ; we 
cannot know till the end ; all we know is, that God 
has helped us hitherto, and we trust He will help us 
still. But yet the experience of what He has already 
done is no proof that He will do more ; our present 
religiousness need not be the consequence of the gift 
•of perseverance as bestowed upon us ; it may have 
been intended merely to prompt and enable us to pray 
earnestly and continually for that gift. There are 
men who, had they died at a particular time, would 
have died the death of Saints, and who lived to fall. 
They lived on here to die eternally. dreadful 



Perseverance in Grace. 131 

thought! Never be you offended, my brethren, or 
overwhelmed, when you find that the good and gentle, 
or the zealous and useful, is cut down and taken off 
in the midst of his course; it is hard to bear, but who 
knows that he is not taken away a fade malitice, " from 
the presence of evil," from the evil to come ? " He 
was taken away," as the Wise Man says, " lest wicked- 
ness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile 
his soul. For the bewitching of vanity obscureth good 
things, and the wandering of concupiscence over- 
turneth the innocent mind. Being made perfect in a 
short space, he fulfilled a long time. For his soul 
pleased God ; and therefore He hastened to bring him 
out of the midst of iniquities. But the people see this 
and understand not, nor lay such things in their 
hearts : that the grace of God and His mercy is with 
His Saints, and that He hath respect unto His 
chosen." 

Bad is it to bear, when such a one is taken away ; 
cruel to his friends, sad even to strangers, and a sur- 
prise to the world; but 0, how much better, how 
happy so to die, instead of being reserved to sin ! 
You may wonder how sin was possible in him, my 
brethren ; he had so many graces, he had lived and 
matured in them so long ; he had overcome so many 
temptations. He had struck his roots deeply, and 
spread abroad his branches on high. One grace grew 
out of another ; and all things in him were double one 
against another. He seemed from the very complete- 
ness of his sanctity, which encircled him on every side, 
to defy assault and to be proof against injury. He, if 



132 Perseverance in Grace. 

any one, could have said with the proud Church in the 
Apocalypse, " I am wealthy and enriched, and have 
need of nothing ; " that he had started well, seemed 
a reason why he should go on well ; strength would 
lead to strength, and merit to merit ; as a flame 
increases and sweeps along and round about, as soon 
as, and for the very reason that, it is once kindled, so 
he had on him the presage of greater and greater 
triumphs as time proceeded. He was fit to scale 
Heaven by an inherent power, which, though at first 
of grace, yet, when once given, became not so much 
grace as a claim for more grace — as by the action of a 
law and the process of a series, in which grace and 
merit alternated, man meriting and meriting, and the 
God of grace being forced to give and give again, if He 
would be true to His promise. Thus we might look 
at him, and think we had already in our hands all the 
data of a great and glorious and infallible conclusion, 
and might deny that a reverse or a fall was possible. 
My brethren, there was once an Eastern king, in his day 
the richest of men ; and a Grecian sage came to visit 
him, and, having seen all his glory and his majesty, 
was pressed by this poor child of vanity to say whether 
he was not the happiest of men. To whom the wise 
man did but reply, that he should wait till he saw the 
end. So it is as regards spiritual wealth; because 
Almighty God, in spite of His ample promises, and 
His faithful performance of them, has not put out of 
His own hands the issues of life and death, and the 
end comes from Him as well as the beginning. When 
He has once given grace, He has not therefore simply 



Perseverance m Grace. 133 

made over to the creature his own salvation. The 
creature can merit much ; but as he could not merit 
the grace of conversion, neither can he merit the gift 
of perseverance. From first to last he is dependent 
on Him who made him ; he cannot be extortionate 
with Him, he cannot turn His bounty to the prejudice 
of the Bountiful ; he may not exalt himself, he dare 
not presume, but "if he thinketh he standeth, let 
him take heed lest he fall." He must watch and 
pray, he must fear and tremble, he must "chastise 
his body and bring it into subjection, lest, after 
he has preached to others, he himself should be 
reprobate." 

But I need not go to heathen history for an in- 
stance in point ; Scripture furnishes one a thousand 
times more apposite and more impressive. Who was 
so variously gifted, so inwardly endowed, so laden with 
external blessings, as Solomon? on whom are lavished, 
as on him, the titles and the glories of the Eternal 
Son, God and man ? The only aspect of Christ's 
adorable Person, which his history does not represent, 
does but bring out to us the peculiarity of his privi- 
leges. He does not symbolize Christ's sufferings; he 
was neither a priest, nor, like David his father, had 
he been a man of strife and toil and blood. Every- 
thing which betokens mortality, everything which 
savours of the fall, is excluded from our idea of Solo- 
mon, He is as if an ideal of perfection ; the king of 
peace, the builder of the temple, the father of a happy 
people, the heir of an empire, the wonder of all nations ; 
a prince, yet a sage ; palace-bred, yet taught in the 



134 Perseveraiice in Grace. 

schools ; a student, yet a man of the world ; deeply 
read in human nature, yet learned too in animals 
and plants. He has the crown without the cross, 
peace without war, experience without suffering ; and 
all this is not in the mere way of men, or from the 
general providence of God, but vouchsafed to him 
from the very hands of his Creator, by a particular 
designation, and as the result of inspiration. He 
obtained it when young ; and where shall we find 
anything so touching in the whole of Scripture as the 
circumstances of his obtaining ? who shall accuse him 
of want of religious fear and true love, whose dawn- 
ing is so beautiful ? When the Almighty appeared 
to him in a dream on his coming to the throne and 
said, " Ask what I shall give thee ; " "0 Lord God," 
he made answer, " Thou hast made Thy servant king 
instead of David my father ; and I am but a child, 
and know not how to go out and come in. And Thy 
servant is in the midst of the people which Thou hast 
chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered 
nor counted for multitude." Accordingly, he asked 
for nothing else but the gift of wisdom to enable him 
to govern his people well ; and as his reward for so 
excellent a petition, he received, not only the wisdom 
for which he had asked, but those other gifts for which 
he had not asked : " And the Lord said unto Solomon, 
Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not 
asked for thyself long life, nor riches, nor the lives of 
thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to 
discern judgment, behold I have done to thee accord- 
ing to thy words, and I have given to thee a wise and 



J^erseverance in Grace. 135 

understanding heart, so that none has been like thee 
before thee, nor shall rise after thee. Yea, and the 
things also, which thou didst not ask, I have given to 
thee, to wit, riches and glory, so that none has been 
like to thee among the kings in all days hereto- 
fore." 

Eare inauguration to his greatness ! the most splen- 
did of monarchs owes nothing to injustice, or to 
cruelty, or to violence, or to treachery, nothing to 
human art or to human arm, that he is so powerful, 
so famous, and so wise ; it is a divine gift which en- 
dued him within, which clothed him without. "What 
was wanting to his blessedness ? seeking God in his 
youth, growing up year after year in sanctity, forti- 
fying his faith by wisdom, and his obedience by 
experience, and his aspirations by habit, what shall he 
not be in the next world, who is so glorious in this ? 
He is a Saint ready made ; he is in his youth what 
others are in their age ; he is fit for heaven ere others 
begin the way heavenward : why should he delay ? 
what lacks he yet? why tarry the wheels of his 
chariot ? why does he remain longer on earth, when 
he has already won his crown, and may be carried 
away in a happy youth, and be securely taken into 
God's keeping, not with the common throng of holy 
souls, but, like Enoch and Elias, passing his long mys- 
terious ages up on high, in some fit secret paradise till 
the day of redemption ? Alas ! he remains on earth 
to show us that there might be one thing lacking 
amidst that multitude of graces ; to show that though 
there be in a man all faith, all hope, all love, all wisdom. 



T 36 Perseverance in Grace. 

though there be an exuberance of merits, it is all but 
a vanity, it is only a woe in the event, if one gift be 
wanting, — the gift of perseverance ! He was in his 
youth, what others hardly are in age ; well were it, 
had he been in his end, what the feeblest of God's 
servants is in his beginning ! 

His great father, whose sanctity had been wrought 
into him by many a fight with Satan, and who knew 
how difficult it was to persevere, when his death drew 
near, as if in prophecy rather than in prayer, had 
spoken thus of and to his son and his people : " God 
said to me. Thou shalt not build a house to My name, 
because thou art a man of war, and hast shed blood ; 
Solomon, thy son, shall build My house and My 
courts ; for I have chosen him to Me for a son, and 
I will be to him a father ; and I will establish his 
kingdom even for ever, if he shall 'persevere to do My 
precepts and judgments, as at this day. And thou, 
Solomon, my son, know the God of thy father, and 
serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind, 
for if Thou shalt forsake Him, He will cast thee off 
for ever." And then, when he had collected together 
the precious materials for that house which he him- 
self was not to build, and was resigning the kingdom 
to his son, " I know," he said, " my God, that 
Thou provest hearts, and lovest simplicity, wherefore, 
have T in the simplicity of my heart and with joy 
ojffered to Thee all these things ; and Thy people too, 
which are present here, have I seen with great joy to 
offer to Thee their gifts. Lord God of Abraham, 
and Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep for ever this 



Perseverance in Grace. 137 

will of our hearts, and let this mind remain always 
for the worship of Thee. And to Solomon also, my 
son, give a perfect heart, that he may keep Thy com- 
mandments, and Thy testimonies, and Thy ceremonies, 
and do all things, and build the building for the 
which I have provided the charges." 

Such had been the dim foreboding of the father, 
fearing perhaps for his son from the very abundance 
of that son's prosperity. And in truth, it is not good 
for a man to live in so cloudless a splendour, and 
under so unchequered a heaven. There is a moral in 
the history, that he who prefigured the coming Saviour 
in all His offices but that of suffering, should fall ; 
that the King and the Prophet, who was neither 
Priest nor Warrior, should come short ; — thereby to 
show that penance is the only sure mother of love. 
" They who sow in tears shall reap in exultation;" 
but Solomon, like the flowers of the field which are 
so beautiful, yet are cast into the oven, so he too, 
with all his glory, retained not his comeliness, but 
withered in his place. He who was wisest became 
as the most brutish ; he who was the most devout 
was lifted up and fell ; he who wrote the Song of 
Songs became the slave and the prey of vile affections. 
*' King Solomon loved many strange women, unto 
them he clave with the most burning love. And 
when he was now old, his heart was depraved by 
women, to follow other gods, Astarte, goddess of the 
Sidonians, and Moloch the idol of the Ammonites ; 
and so did he for all his strange wives, who did 
bum incense and sacrifice unto their gods." 0, 



138 Perseverance in Grace. 

what a contrast between that grey-headed apostate, 
laden with years and with sins, bowing down to 
women and to idols, and the bright and youthful 
form standing, on the day of Dedication, in the Temple 
he had built, as a mediator between God and his 
people, when he acknowledged so simply, so fervently, 
God's mercies and God's faithfulness, and prayed that 
He would " incline their hearts unto Himself, that 
they might walk in all His ways, and keep His com- 
mandments, and His ceremonies, and His judgments, 
whatever He had commanded to their fathers ! " 

Well were it for us, my dear brethren, were it only 
kings and prophets and sages, and other rare creations 
of God's grace, to whom this warning applied ; but it 
applies to all of us. It is indeed most true that the 
holier a man is, and the higher in the kingdom of 
heaven, so much the greater need has he to look care- 
fully to his footing, lest he stumble and be lost ; and 
a deep conviction of this necessity has been the sole 
preservative of the Saints. Had they not feared, they 
never "would have persevered. Hence, like St. Paul, 
they are always full of their sin and their peril. You 
would think them the most polluted of sinners, and 
the most unstable of penitents. Such was the 
blessed Martyr Ignatius, who, when on his way to 
his death, said, "Now I begin to be Christ's disciple." 
Such was the great Basil, who was ever ascribing the 
calamities of the Church and of his country to the 
wrath of Heaven upon his own sins. Such was 
St. Gregory, who submitted to his elevation to the 
Popedom, as if it were his spiritual death. Such too 



Perseverance in Grace. 139 

was my own dear Pather St. Philip, who was ever 
showing, in the midst of the gifts he received from 
God, the anxiety and jealousy with which he re- 
garded himself and his prospects. " Every day," 
says his biographer, "he used to make a protest to 
God with the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, saying,. 
'Lord, beware of me to-day, lest I should betray 
Thee, and do Thee all the mischief in the world.' "^ 
At other times he would say, "The wound in Christ's 
side is large, but, if God did not guard me, I should 
make it larger." In his last illness, "Lord, if I 
recover, so far as I am concerned, I shall do more 
evil than ever, because I have promised so many 
times before to change my life, and have not kept my 
word, so that I despair of myself." He would shed 
abundance of tears and say, " I have never done one 
good action." When he saw young persons, he began 
considering how much time they had before them to 
do good in, and said, " 0, happy you ! 0, happy 
you ! " He often said, " I am past hope," and, when 
urged, he added, "but I trust in God." When a 
penitent of his called him a Saint, he turned to her 
with a face full of anger, and said, " Begone with you^ 
I am a devil, not a Saint." When another said to 
him, "Father, a temptation has come to me to think 
you are not what the world takes you for," he 
answered, " Be sure of this, that I am a man like my 
neighbours, and nothing more." 

What a reflection on ordinary Christians is the 
language of Saints about themselves ! Multitudes 
indeed live in mortal sin, and have no concern at all 



140 Perseverance in Grace. 

about present, past, or future. But even those who 
go so far as to come to the Sacraments, never trouble 
themselves with the thought of perseverance. They 
seem to take it as a matter of course that, if they 
are in a good state of mind at present, it will continue. 
Perhaps they have been converted from a sinful life, 
and are very different from what they have been. 
They feel the comfort of the change, they feel the 
peace and satisfaction of a cleansed conscience, but 
they are so taken up with that comfort and peace, 
that they rest in it and become secure. They do not 
guard against temptation, or pray for support under 
it ; it does not occur to them that, as they have 
changed from sin to religion, so they may, if so be, 
change back again from religion to sin. They do not 
realize enough their continual dependence on God ; 
some temptation comes on them, or some vicissitude of 
life, they are surprised, they fall, and perhaps they 
never recover. 

What a scene is this life, a scene of almost universal 
•disappointment ! of springs blighted, — of harvests 
beaten down by the storm, when they should have 
been gathered into the storehouses ! of tardy and im- 
perfect repentances, when there is nothing else left to 
be done, of unsatisfactory resolves and poor efforts, 
when the end of life is come ! my dear children, 
how subdued our rejoicing in you is, even when you 
are walking well and hopefully ! how anxious are we 
for you, even when you are cheerful from the light- 
ness of your conscience and the sincerity of your 
hearts ! how we sigh when we give thanks for you. 



Perseverance in Grace. 141 

and tremble even while we rejoice in hearing your con- 
fessions and absolving you ! And why ? because we 
know how great and high is the gift of perseverance. 
When Hazael came with his presents to the prophet 
Eliseus, the man of God stood over against him, in 
silence and in bitter thought, till at last the blood 
mounted up into his countenance, and he wept. He 
wept, to Hazael's surprise, at the prospect of the 
dreadful butcheries which the soldier before him, little 
as he himself expected it, was to perpetrate when he 
succeeded to the throne of Syria. We, honest and 
cheerful hearts, are not prophets as Eliseus, nor are 
you destined to high estate and extraordinary tempta- 
tion as Hazael ; but still the tears which the man of 
God shed, what if some Angel should be shedding the 
like over any of you, what time you are receiving par- 
don and grace from the voice and hand of the Priests 
of Christ ! 0, how many are there who pass well 
and hopefully through what seem to be their most 
critical years, and fall just when one might consider 
them beyond danger ! How many are good youths, 
yet careless men ; blameless from fifteen to twenty, yet 
captives to habits of sin between twenty and thirty I 
How many persevere till they marry, and then perhaps 
get inextricably entangled in the cares or pleasures 
of this world, and give up attendance on the 
Sacraments, and other holy practices, which they have 
hitherto observed ! how many pass through their 
married life well, but lapse into sin on the death of 
wife or husband ! How many are there who by mere 
change of place lose their religious habits, and be- 



T42 Perseverance in Grace. 

■come first careless and then shameless ! How many 
upon the commission of one sin fall into remorse, 
disgust of themselves, and recklessness, avoid the 
Confessional from shame and despair, and live on 
year after year, burdened with the custody of some 
miserable secret ! How many fall into trouble, lose 
their spirit and heart, shut themselves up in them- 
selves, and feel a sort of aversion to religion, when 
religion would be all in all to them ! Hov/ many 
come to some great prosperity, and, carried away by 
it, " wax fat and kick, and leave God their Maker, 
and recede from God their Saviour ! " How many 
fall into lukewarmness almost like death, after their 
first fervour ! How many lose the graces begun in 
them by self-confidence and arrogant impetuosity ! 
How many, not yet Catholics, who under God's 
guidance were making right for the Catholic Church, 
suddenly turn short and miss, "like a crooked bow!" 
How many, when led forward by God's unmerited 
grace, are influenced by the persuasions of relatives 
or the inducements of station or of wealth, and be- 
come in the event sceptics or infidels when they 
might have almost died in the odour of sanctity ! 
How many, whose contrition once gained for them 
even the grace of justification, yet afterwards, by re- 
fusing to go forward, have gone backwards, though 
they maintain a semblance of what they once were, 
by means of the mere natural habits which super- 
natural grace has formed within them ! What a 
miserable wreck is the world, hopes without sub- 
•stance, promises without fulfilment, repentance with- 



Perseverance in Grace. 143 

out amendment, blossom without fruit, continuance 
and progress without perseverance ! 

my dearest children, let me not depress you ; it 
is your duty, your privilege to rejoice ; I would not 
frighten you more than it is good for you to be 
frightened. Some of you will take it too much to 
heart, and will fret yourselves unduly, as I fear. I 
do not wish to sadden you, but to make you cautious ; 
doubt not you will be led on, fear not to fall, pro- 
vided you do but fear a fall. Fearing will secure you 
from what you fear. Only " be sober, be vigilant," 
as St, Peter says, beware of taking satisfaction in 
what you are, understand that the only way to avoid 
falling back is to press forward. Dread all occasions 
of sin, get a habit of shrinking from the beginnings 
of temptation. Never speak confidently about your- 
selves, nor contemptuously of the religiousness of 
others, nor lightly of sacred things ; guard your eyes, 
guard the first springs of thought, be jealous of your- 
selves when alone, neglect not your daily prayers ; 
above all, pray specially and continually for the gift 
of perseverance. Come to Mass as often as you can, 
visit the Blessed Sacrament, make frequent acts of 
faith and love, and try to live in the Presence of God. 
And further still, interest your dear Mother, the 
Mother of God, in your success ; pray to her 
earnestly for it ; she can do more for you than any 
one else. Pray her by the pain she suffered, when 
the sharp sword went through her, pray her, by her 
own perseverance, which was in her the gift of the 



144 Perseverance in Grace. 

same God of whom you ask it for yourselves. God 
will not refuse you, He will not refuse her, if you 
have recourse to her succour. It will be a blessed 
thing, in your last hour, when flesh and heart are 
failing, in the midst of the pain, the weariness, the 
restlessness, the prostration of strength, and the ex- 
haustion of spirits, which then will be your portion, 
it will be blessed indeed to have her at your side, 
more tender than an earthly mother, to nurse you 
and to whisper peace. It will be most blessed, when 
the evil one is making his last effort, when he is 
coming on you in his might to pluck you away from 
your Father's hand, if he can, — it will be blessed 
indeed if Jesus, if Mary and Joseph are then with you, 
waiting to shield you from his assaults and to receive 
your soul. If they are there, all are there ; Angels are 
there. Saints are there, heaven is there, heaven is 
begun in you, and the devil has no part in you. That 
dread day may be sooner or later, you may be taken 
away young, you may live to fourscore, you may die 
in your bed, you may die in the open field, but if 
Mary intercedes for you, that day will find you 
watching and ready. All things will be fixed to 
secure your salvation ; all dangers will be foreseen, 
all obstacles removed, all aids provided. The hour 
will come, and in a moment you will be translated 
beyond fear and risk, you will be translated into a 
new state where sin is not, nor ignorance of the 
future, but perfect faith and serene joy, and assurance 
and love everlasting. 



DISCOURSE VIII. 

NATURE AND GRACE, 

TISr the Parable of the Good Shepherd our Lord 
sets before us a dispensation or state of things^ 
which is very strange in the eyes of the world. He 
speaks of mankind as consisting of two bodies, dis- 
tinct from each other, divided by as real a line of 
demarcation as the fence which encloses the sheepfold. 
" I am the Door," He says, " by Me if any man shall 
have entered in, he shall be saved : and he shall go in 
and go out, and shall find pastures. My sheep hear 
My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and 
I give them life everlasting; and they shall not 
perish for ever, and no man shall snatch them out of 
My Hand." And in His last prayer for His disciples 
to His Eternal Father, He says, " I have manifested 
Thy Name to the men whom Thou hast given Me 
out of the world. Thine they were, and Thou hast 
given them to Me, and they have kept Thy word. I 
pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for those 
whom Thou hast given Me, for they are Thine. 
Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name whom Thou 

hast given Me, that they mav be one, as We also." 

10 



146 Nature and Grace. 

Nor are these passages solitary or singular; "Fear 
not, little flock," He says by another Evangelist, 
"for it hath pleased your Father to give you the 
kingdom." And again, "I thank Thee, Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these 
things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed 
them unto little ones;" and again, "How narrow is 
the gate, and strait the way which leadeth to life, and 
few there are who find it ! " St. Paul repeats and 
insists on this doctrine of his Lord, " Ye were once 
darkness, but now are light in the liOrd;" "He hath 
delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath 
translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His 
love." And St. John, " Greater is He that is in you 
than he that is in the world. They are of the world, 
we are of God." Thus there are two parties on this 
earth, and two only, if we view men in their religious 
aspect ; those, the few, who hear Christ's words and 
follow Him, who are in the light, and walk in the 
narrow way, and have the promise of heaven; and 
those, on the other hand, who are the many, for whom 
Christ prays not, though He has died for them, who 
are wise and prudent in their own eyes, who are 
possessed by the Evil One, and are subject to his 
rule. 

And such is the view taken of mankind, as by their 
Maker and Eedeemer, so also by the small company 
in whom He lives and is glorified ; but far differently 
does the larger body, the world itself, look upon man- 
kind at large, upon its own vast multitudes, and upon 
those whom God has taken out of it for His own special 



Nature and Grace. 147 

inheritance. It considers that all men are pretty much 
on a level, or that, differ though they may, they differ 
by such fine shades from each other, that it is impos- 
sible, because forsooth'it would be untrue and unjust, to 
divide them into two bodies, or to divide them at all. 
" Each man is like himself and no one else ; each man 
has his own opinions, his own rule of faith and con- 
duct, his own worship ; if a number join together in 
a religious form, this is an accident, for the sake of 
convenience; for each is complete in himself; re- 
ligion is simply a personal concern ; there is no such 
thing really as a common or joint religion, that is, 
one in which a number of men, strictly speaking, 
partake ; it is all matter of private judgment. Hence, 
as they sometimes proceed even to avow, there is no 
such thing as a true religion or a false ; that is true 
to each, which each sincerely believes to be true ; and 
what is true to one, is not true to his neighbour. 
There are no special doctrines, necessary to be believed 
in order to salvation ; it is not very difficult to be 
saved ; and most men may take it for granted that 
they shall be saved. All men are in God's favour, 
except so far as, and while, they commit acts of sin ; 
but when the sin is over, they get back into His favour 
again, naturally and as a thing of course, no one 
knows how, owing to God's infinite indulgence, 
unless indeed [they persevere and die in a course of 
sin, and perhaps even then. There is no such place 
as hell, or at least punishment is not eternal. Pre- 
destination, election, grace, perseverance, faith, 
sanctity, unbelief, and reprobation are strange ideas. 



148 Nature and Grace. 

and, as they think, very false ones." This is the east 
of opinion of men in general, in proportion as they 
exercise their minds on the subject of religion, and 
think for themselves ; and if in any respect they 
depart from the easy, cheerful, and tranquil temper of 
mind which it expresses, it is when they are led to 
think of those who presume to take the contrary 
view, that is, who take the view set forth by Christ 
and His Apostles. On these they are commonly 
severe, that is, on the very persons whom God 
acknowledges as His, and is training heavenward, — 
on Catholics, who are the witnesses and preachers of 
those awful doctrines of grace, which condemn the 
world and which the world cannot endure. 

In truth the world does not know of the existence 
of grace ; nor is it wonderful, for it is ever contented 
with itself, and has never turned to account the 
supernatural aids bestowed upon it. Its highest idea 
of man lies in the order of nature ; its pattern man is 
the natural man ; it thinks it wrong to be anything 
else than a natural man. It sees that nature has a 
number of tendencies, inclinations, and passions ; and 
because these are natural, it thinks that each of them 
may be indulged for its own sake, so far as it does no 
harm to others, or to a person's bodily, mental, and 
temporal well-being. It''considers that want of mode- 
ration, or excess, is the very definition of sin, if it goes 
so far as to recognize that word. It thinks that he is 
the perfect man who eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and 
walks, and diverts himself, and studies, and writes, 
and attends to religion, in moderation. The devotional 



Nature and Grace. 149 

feeling and the intellect, and the flesh, have each its 
claim upon us, and each must have play, if the Creator 
is to be duly honoured. It does not understand, it will 
not admit, that impulses and propensities, which are 
found in our nature, as God createdit, may nevertheless, 
if indulged, become sins, on the ground that He has 
subjected them to higher principles, whether these 
principles be in our nature, or be superadded to our 
nature. Hence it is very slow to beheve that evil 
thoughts are really displeasing to God, and incur 
punishment. Works, indeed, tangible actions, which 
are seen and which have influence, it will allow to be 
wrong ; but it will not believe even that deeds are 
sinful, or that they are more than reprehensible, if 
they are private or personal ; and it is blind utterly to 
the malice of thoughts, of imaginations, of wishes, and 
of words. Because the wild emotions of anger, lust, 
greediness, craft, cruelty, are no sin in the brute 
creation, which has neither the means nor the com- 
mand to repress them, therefore they are no sins in a 
being who has a diviner sense and a controlling power. 
Concupiscence, it considers, may be indulged, because 
it is in its first elements natural. 

Behold here the true origin and fountain-head of 
the warfare between the Church and the world ; here 
they join issue, and diverge from each other. The 
Church is built upon the doctrine that impurity is 
hateful to God, and that concupiscence is its root; 
with the Prince of the Apostles, her visible Head, she 
denounces " the corruption of concupiscence which is 
in the world," or, that corruption in the world which 



1 50 Nature and Grace. 

comes of concupiscence ; whereas the corrupt world 
defends, nay, I may even say, sanctifies tliat very con- 
cupiscence which is the world's corruption. Just as its 
bolder teachers, as you know, my brethren, hold that 
the laws of this physical creation are so supreme, as to 
allow of their utterly disbelieving in the existence 
of miracles, so, in like manner, it deifies and worships 
human nature and its impulses, and denies the power 
and the grant of grace. This is the source of the 
hatred which the world bears to the Church ; it finds 
a whole catalogue of sins brought into light and 
denounced, which it would fain believe to be no sins 
at all ; it finds itself, to its indignation and im- 
patience, surrounded with sin, morning, noon, and 
night; it finds that a stern law lies against it in 
matters where it believed it was its own master and 
need not think of God ; it finds guilt accumulating 
upon it hourly, which nothing can prevent, nothing 
remove, but a higher power, the grace of God. It 
finds itself in danger of being humbled to the earth 
as a rebel, instead of being allowed to indulge its self- 
dependence and self-complacency. Hence it takes its 
stand on nature, and denies or rejects divine grace. 
Like the proud spirit in the beginning, it wishes to 
find its supreme good in its own self, and nothing 
above it ; it undertakes to be sufficient for its own 
happiness ; it has no desire for the supernatural, and 
therefore does not believe in it. And because nature 
cannot rise above nature, it will not believe that the 
narrow way is possible ; it hates those who enter upon 
it as if pretenders and hypocrites, or laughs at their 



Nature and Grace. 151 

aspirations as romance and fanaticism ; lest it should 
have to believe in the existence of grace. 

Now you may think, my brethren, from the way in 
which I have been contrasting nature and grace, that 
they cannot possibly be mistaken for each other ; but 
I wish to show you, in the next place, how grace 
may be mistaken for nature, and nature mistaken for 
grace. And in explaining this very grave matter, I 
wish, lest I should be misunderstood, first to say 
distinctly, that I am merely comparing and contrast- 
ing nature and grace one with another in their several 
characters, and by no means presuming to apply 
what I shall say of them to actual individuals, or to 
judge what persons, living or dead, are specimens 
of the one or of the other. This then being my 
object, I repeat that, contrary to what might be 
thought, they may easily be mistaken for each other, 
because, as it is plain from what I have said, the dif- 
ference is in a great measure an inward, and therefore 
a secret one. Grace is lodged in the heart ; it puri- 
fies the thoughts and motives, it raises the soul to God, 
it sanctifies the body, it corrects and exalts human 
nature in regard to those sins of which men are 
ashamed, and do not make a public display. Accord- 
ingly, in outward show, in single actions, in word, in 
profession, in teaching, in the social and political 
virtues, in striking and heroical exploits, on the public 
transitory scene of things, nature may counterfeit 
grace, nay even to the deception of the man himself 
in whom the counterfeit occurs. EecoUect that it is 
by nature, not by grace, that man has the gifts of 



152 Nahire and Grace. 

reason and conscience ; and mere reason and conscience 
will lead him to discover, and in a measure pursue, 
objects which are, properly speaking, supernatural 
and divine. From the things which are seen, from 
the voice of tradition, from the existence of the soul, 
and from the necessity of the case, the natural 
reason can infer the existence of God. The natural 
heart can burst forth by fits and starts into emotions of 
love towards Him ; the natural imagination can depict 
the beauty and glory of His attributes ; the natural 
conscience may ascertain and put in order the truths 
of the great moral law, nay even to the condemnation 
of that concupiscence, which it is too weak to subdue, 
and is therefore persuaded to tolerate. The natural 
will can do many things really good and praiseworthy ; 
nay, in particular cases, or at particular seasons, when 
temptation is away, it may seem to have a strength 
which it has not, and to be imitating the austerity and 
purity of a Saint. One man has no temptation to 
this sin, nor another to that; hence human nature 
may often show to great advantage ; and, as seen 
in its happier specimens, it may become quite a trial 
to faith, seeing that in its best estate it has really no 
relationship to the family of Christ, and no claim 
whatever to a heavenly reward, — though it can talk of 
Christ and heaven too, read Scripture, and " do many 
things willingly " in consequence of reading it, and 
can exercise a certain sort of belief, however different 
from that faith which is imparted to us by grace. 

For instance, it is a most mournful, often quite a 
piercing thought, to contemplate the conduct and the 



Nature mid Grace. 153 

character of those who have never received the ele- 
mentary grace of God in the Sacrament of Baptism.* 
They may be in fact, so benevolent, so active and 
untiring in their benevolence ; they may be so wise 
and so considerate: they may have so much in them to 
engage the affections of those who see them ! Well, 
let us leave them to God ; His grace is over all the 
earth ; if that grace comes to good effect and bears 
fruit in the hearts of the unbaptized, He will reward 
it ; but, where grace is not, there doubtless what 
looks so fair has its reward in this world, such good 
as is in it having no better claim on a heavenly re- 
ward than skill in any art or science, than eloquence 
■or wit. And moreover, it often happens, that, where 
there is much that is specious and amiable, there is 
also much that is sinful, and frightfully so. Men show 
their best face in the world ; but for the greater part 
of their time, the many hours of the day and the night, 
they are shut up in their own thoughts. They are their 
own witnesses, none see them besides, save God and 
His Angels ; therefore in such cases we can only judge 
of what we actually see, and can only admire what is 
in itself good, without having any means of deter- 
mining the real moral condition of those who display 
it. Just as children are caught by the mere good- 
nature and familiarity with which they are treated by 
some grown man, and have no means or thought of 
forming a judgment about him in other respects, and 
may be surprised, when they grow up, to find how 
unworthy he is of their respect or affection ; as the 
* Vid. Sermons for the Day, pp. 68-70. 



154 Nature and Grace. 

uneducated, who have seen very little of the world, 
have no faculties for distinguishing between one rank 
of men and another, and consider all persons on a 
level who are respectably dressed, whatever be their 
accent, their carriage, or their countenance ; so all 
of us, not children only or the uncultivated, are 
but novices, or less than novices, in the business of 
deciding ■what is the real state in God's sight of this 
or that man, who is external to the Church, yet in 
character or conduct resembles her true sons. 

Not entering then upon this point, which is beyond 
us, so much we even can see and are sure of, that human 
nature is, in a degree beyond all words, inconsistent, 
and that we must not take for granted that it can do 
anything at all more than it actually does, or that 
those, in whom it shows most plausibly, are a whit 
better than they look. We see the best, and (as far 
as moral excellence goes) the whole of them. We can- 
not argue from what we see in favour of what we do 
not see ; we cannot take what we see as a specimen 
of what they really are. Sad, then, as the spectacle of 
such a man is to a Catholic, he is no difficulty to 
him. He may have many virtues, yet he may have 
nothing of a special Christian cast about him, humility, 
purity, or devotion. He may like his own way in- 
tensely, have a great opinion of his own powers, scoff 
at faith and religious fear, and seldom or never have 
said a prayer in his life. Nay, even outward gravity 
of deportment is no warrant that there is not within 
an habitual indulgence of evil thoughts, and secret 
offences odious to Almighty God. We admire, for 



Nature and Grace. 155 

instance, whatever is excellent in the ancient heathen • 
we acknowledge without jealousy whatever they have 
done virtuous and praiseworthy, but w^e understand as 
little of the character or destiny of the being in whom 
that goodness is found, as we understand the nature of 
the material substances which present themselves to 
us under the outward garb of shape and colour. They 
are to us as unknown causes which have influenced or 
disturbed the world, and which manifest themselves 
in certain great effects, political, social, or ethical ; 
they are to us as pictures, which appeal to the eye, 
but not to the touch. We do not know that they 
would prove to be more real than a painting, if we 
could touch them. Thus much we know, that, if 
they have attained to heaven, it has been by the 
grace of God and their co-operation with it ; if they 
have lived without using that grace which is given to 
all, they have no hope of life ; and, if they have lived 
and died in mortal sin, they are in the state of bad 
Catholics, and have the prospect of never-ending death. 
Yet, if we allow ourselves to take the mere outward 
appearance of things, and the happier, though partial 
and occasional, efforts of human nature, how great it is, 
how amiable, how briUiant, — that is, if we may pretend 
to the power of viewing it distinct from the super- 
natural influences which have ever haunted it ! How 
great are the old Greek lawgivers and statesmen, whose 
histories and works are known to some of us, and 
whose names to many more ! How great are those 
stern Eoman heroes, who conquered the world, and pre- 
pared the way for Christ ! How wise, how profound^ 



156 Nature and Grace. 

are those ancient teachers and sages ! what power of 
imagination, what a semblance of prophecy, is manifest 
in their poets ! The present world is in many respects 
not so great as in that old time, but even now there is 
enough in it to show both the strength of human nature 
in this respect, and its weakness. Consider the solidity 
of our own political fabric at home, and the expansion 
of our empire abroad, and you will have matter enough 
spread out before you to occupy many a long day in 
admiration of the genius, the virtues, and the resources 
■of human nature. Take a second meditation upon it; 
■alas ! you will find nothing of faith there, but mainly 
expedience as the measure of right and wrong, and 
temporal well-being as the end of action. 

Again, many are the tales and poems written now- 
a-days, expressing high and beautiful sentiments ; I 
dare say some of you, my brethren, have fallen in with 
them, and perhaps you have thought to yourselves, that 
he must be a man of deep religious feeling and high 
religious profession who could write so well. Is it so 
in fact, my brethren ? it is not so ; why ? because after 
all it is hut poetry, not religion ; it is human nature 
exerting the powers of imagination and reason, which it 
has, till it seems also to have powers which it has not. 
There are, you know, in the animal world various 
■creatures, which are able to imitate the voice of man ; 
nature in like manner is often a mockery of grace. 
The truth is, the natural man sees this or that prin- 
■ciple to be good or true from the light of conscience ; 
and then, since he has the power of reasoning, he knows 
that, if this be true, many other things are true like- 



Nature and Grace. 157 

wise ; and then, having the power of imagination, he 
pictures to himself those other things as true, though 
he does not really understand them. And then he 
brings to his aid what he has read and gained from 
others who liavc had grace, and thus he completes his 
sketch ; and then he throws his feelings and his heart 
into it, meditates on it, and kindles in himself a sort 
of enthusiasm, and thus he is able to write beautifully 
and touchingly about what to others indeed may be 
a reality, but to him is nothing more than a fiction. 
Thus some can write about the early Martyrs, and others- 
dsscribe some great Saint of the Middle Ages, not 
exactly as a Catholic would, but as if they had a piety 
and a seriousness to which really they are strangers. 
So, too, actors on a stage can excite themselves till they 
think they are the persons they represent; and, as you 
know, prejudiced persons, who wish to quarrel with 
another, impute something to him, which at first they 
scarcely believe themselves; but they wish to believe 
it and act as if it were true, and raise and cherish 
anger at the thought of it, till at last they come simply 
to believe it. So it is, I say, in the case of many an 
author in verse and prose; readers are deceived by his 
fine writing ; they not only praise this or that senti- 
ment, or argument, or description, in what they read,, 
which happens to be true, but they put faith in the 
writer himself; and they believe sentiments or state- 
ments which are false on the credit of the true. Thus 
it is that people are led away into false religions and 
false philosophies ; a preacher or speaker, who is in a, 
state of nature, or has fallen from grace, is able to say 



158 Nature and Grace. 

many things to touch the heart of a sinner or to strike 
his conscience, whether from his natural powers, or 
from what he has read in books ; and the latter forth- 
with takes him for his prophet and guide, on the 
warrant of these accidental truths which it required no 
supernatural gifts to discover and enforce. 

Scripture provides us an instance of such a prophet 
(nay, of one far more favoured and honoured than any 
false teacher is now), who nevertheless was the enemy 
of God ; I mean the prophet Balaam. He went forth 
to curse the chosen people in spite of an express 
prohibition from heaven, and that for money ; and at 
length he died fighting against them in battle. Such 
was he in his life and in his death ; such were his 
deeds ; but what were his words ? most religious, most 
conscientious, most instructive. " If Balac," he says, 
" shall give me his house full of silver and gold, I 
cannot alter the word of the Lord my God." Again, 
" Let my soul die the death of the just, and let my 
end be like to theirs ! " And again, " I will show 
thee, man, what is good, and what the Lord re- 
quireth of thee ; to do judgment and to love mercy, 
and to walk heedfully with thy God." Here is a man, 
who is not in a state of grace, speaking so religiously, 
that at first sight you might have thought he was to 
be followed in whatever he said, and that your soul 
would have been safe with his. 

And thus it often happens, that those who seem so 
amiable and good, and so trustworthy, when we only 
know them from their writings, disappoint us so pain- 
fully, if at length we come to have a personal acquain- 



Nature and Grace. 159 

tance with them. "We do not recognize in the living 
being the eloquence or the wisdom which so much 
enchanted us. He is rude, perhaps, and unfeeling ; he 
is selfish, he is dictatorial, he is sensual, he is empty- 
minded and frivolous ; while we in our simplicity 
had antecedently thought him the very embodiment of 
purity and tenderness, or an oracle of heavenly truth. 
Now, my dear brethren, I have been engaged in 
bringing before you what human nature can do, and 
what it can appear, without being reconciled to God, 
without any hope of heaven, without any security 
against sin, without any pardon of the original curse, 
nay, in the midst of mortal sin ; but it is a state 
which has never existed in fact, without great 
modifications. No one has ever been deprived of the 
assistance of grace, both for illumination and con- 
version ; even the heathen world as a whole had to a 
certain extent its darkness relieved by these fitful and 
recurrent gleams of light ; but I have thought it 
useful to get you to contemplate what human nature is, 
viewed in itself, for various reasons. It explains how 
it is that men look so like each other as they do, — 
grace being imitated, and, as it were, rivalled by nature, 
both in society at large, and in the hearts of particular 
persons. Hence the world will not believe the separa- 
tion really existing between it and the Church, and the 
smallness of the flock of Christ. And hence too it is, 
that numbers who have heard the Name of Christ, and 
profess to believe in the Gospel, will not be persuaded 
as regards themselves that they are exterior to the 
Church, and do not enjoy her privileges ; merely be- 



1 60 Nature and Grace. 

cause they do their duty in some general way, or 
because they are conscious to themselves of being 
benevolent or upright. And this is a point which 
concerns Catholics too, as I now proceed to show you. 
Make yourselves quite sure then, my brethren, of 
the matter of fact, before you go away with the belief^ 
that you are not confusing, in your own case, nature 
and grace, and taking credit to yourselves for super- 
natural works, which merit heaven, when you are but 
doing the works of a heathen, are unforgiven, and lie 
under an eternal sentence. 0, it is a dreadful thought, 
that a man may deceive himself witli the notion that 
he is secure, merely because he is a Catholic, and 
because he has some kind of love and fear of God,, 
whereas he may be no better than many a Protestant 
round about him, who either never was baptized, or 
threw himself once for all out of grace on coming to 
years of understanding. This idea is entirely conceiv- 
able ; it is well if it be not true in matter of fact. 
You know, it is one opinion entertained among divines 
and holy men, that the number of Catholics that are 
to be saved will on the whole be small. Multitudes of 
those who never knew the Gospel will rise up in the 
judgment against the children of the Church, and 
will be shown to have done more with scantier oppor- 
tunities. Our Lord speaks of His people as a small 
flock, as I cited His words when I began : He says, 
" Many are called, few are chosen." St. Paul, speaking 
in the first instance of the Jews, says that but " a 
remnant is saved according to the election of grace." 
He speaks even of the possibility of his own reproba- 



Nature and Grace. i6r 

tion. What a thought in an Apostle ! yet it is one 
with which Saints are familiar; they fear both for 
themselves and for others. It is related in the history 
of my own dear Patron, St. Philip Neri, that some 
time after his death he appeared to a holy religious, 
and bade him take a message of consolation to his 
children, the Fathers of the Oratory. The consolation 
was this, that, by the grace of God, up to that day not 
one of the Congregation had been lost. "None of 
them lost !" a man may cry out ; " well, had his con- 
solation for his children been, that they were all in 
paradise, havin_g escaped the dark lake of purgatory, 
that would have been something worth telling ; but 
all he had to say was, that none of them were in hell I 
Strange if they were ! Here was a succession of men, 
who had given up the world for a religious life, who 
had given up self for God and their neighbour, who 
had passed their days in prayer and good works, who 
had died happily with the last Sacraments, and it is 
revealed about them, as a great consolation, that not 
even one of them was lost ! " Still such after all is 
our holy Father's consolation ; and, that it should be 
such, only proves that salvation is not so easy a matter, 
or so cheap a possession, as we are apt to suppose. It 
is not obtained by the mere wishing. And, if it was 
a gift so to be coveted by men, who had made 
sacrifices for Christ, and were living in sanctity, how 
much more rare and arduous of attainment is it in 
those who have confessedly loved the world more than 
God, and have never dreamed of doing any duty to 

which the Church did not oblige them ! 

11 



1 62 Nature and Grace. 

Tell me, what is the state of your souls and the rule 
of your lives ? You come to Confession, once a year ; — 
four times a year ; — at the Indulgences ; — you commu- 
nicate as often ; you do not miss Mass on days of 
obligation ; you are not conscious of any great sin. — 
There you come to an end ; you have nothing more 
to say. What ? do you not take God's name in vain ? 
only when you are angry ; that is, I suppose, you are 
subject to fits of violent passion, in which you use 
every shocking word which the devil puts into your 
mouth, and abuse and curse, and perhaps strike the 
objects of your anger ? — Only now and then, you say, 
when you are in liquor. Then it seems you are given to 
intoxication ? — you answer, you never drink so much 
as not to know what you are doing. Do you really 
mean that for an excuse ! Well, have you improved 
in these respects in the course of several years past ? 
You cannot say you have, but such sins are not 
mortal at the most. Then, I suppose, you have 
not lately fallen into mortal sin at all ? You pause, 
and then you are obliged to confess that you have, 
and that once and again; and the more I ques- 
tion you, perhaps the longer becomes the catalogue of 
offences which have separated you from God. But 
this is not all ; your sole idea of sin is, the sinning in 
act and in deed ; sins of habit, which cling so close 
to you that they are difficult to detect, and manifest 
themselves in slight but continual influences on your 
thoughts, words, and works, do not engage your 
attention at all. You are selfish, and obstinate, and 
worldly, and self-indulgent ; you neglect your children; 



Nature and Grace. 163 

you are fond of idle amusements ; you scarcely ever 
think of God from day to day, for I cannot call your 
hurried prayers morning and night any thinking of 
Him at all. You are friends with the world, and live 
a good deal among those who have no sense of religion. 
Now what have you to tell me which will set against 
this ? what good have you done ? in what is your hope of 
heaven ? whence do you gain it ? You perhaps answer 
me, that the Sacrament of Penance reconciles you from 
time to time to God ; that you live in the world ; 
that you are not called to the religious state ? that it 
is true you love the world more than God, but that 
you love God sufficiently for salvation, and that you 
rely in the hour of death upon the powerful interces- 
sion of the Blessed Mother of God. Then besides, you 
have a number of good points, which you go through, 
and which are to you signs that you are in the grace 
of God ; you conceive that your state at worst is one 
of tepidity. Tepidity ! I tell you, you have no marks 
of tepidity ; do you wish to know what a tepid person 
is ? one who has begun to lead almost the life of a 
Saint, and has fallen from his fervour ; one who 
retains his good practices, but does them without 
devotion ; one who does so nnicli, that we only blame 
him for not doing more. No, you need not confess 
tepidity, my brother ; — do you wish to have the judg- 
ment which I am led to form about you ? it is, that 
probably you are not in the grace of God at all. The 
probability is, that for a long while past you have 
gone to Confession without the proper dispositions, 
without real grief, and without sincere purpose of 



1 64 Natu7'e and Grace. 

amendment for your sins. You are probably such, 
that were you to die this night, you would be lost for 
ever. What do you do more than nature does ? You do 
certain good things ; " what reward have ye ? do not 
even the publicans so ? what do ye more than others ? 
do not even the heathen so ? " You have the ordinary 
virtues of human nature, or some of them ; you are 
what nature made you, and care not to be better. 
You may be naturally kind-hearted, and then you 
do charitable actions to others ; you have a natural 
strength of character, — if so, you are able to bring 
your passions under the power of reason ; you have a 
natural energy, and you labour for your family ; you 
are naturally mild, and so you do not quarrel ; you have 
a dislike of intemperance, and therefore you are sober. 
You have the virtues of your Protestant neighbours, 
and their faults too ; what are you better than they ? 
Here is another grave matter against you, that you 
are so well with the Protestants about you ; I do not 
mean to say that you are not bound to cultivate peace 
with all men, and to do them all the offices of charity 
in your power. Of course you are, and'if they respect, 
esteem, and love you, it redounds to your praise and 
will gain you a reward ; but I mean more than this ; 
I mean they do not respect you, but they like you, be- 
cause they think of you as of themselves, they see no 
difference between themselves and you. This is the 
very reason why they so often take your part, and assert 
or defend your political rights. Here again, there is a 
sense of course in which our civil rights may be advo- 
cated by Protestants without any reflection on us, and 



Nature and Grace. 165 

with honour to them. We are like others in this, that 
we are men ; that we are members of the same state 
with them, subjects, oontented subjects, of the same 
Sovereign, that we have a dependence on them, and 
have them dependent on us ; that, like them, we feel 
pain when ill-used, and are grateful when well-treated. 
We need not be ashamed of a fellowship like this, 
and those who recognize it in us are generous in doing 
so. But we have much cause to be ashamed, and 
much cause to be anxious what God thinks of us, if 
we gain their support by giving them a false impres- 
sion in our persons of what the Catholic Church is 
and what Catholics are bound to be, what bound to 
believe, and to do ; and is not this the case often, my 
brethren, that the world takes up your interests, 
because you share its sins ? 

Nature is one with nature, grace with grace ; the 
world then witnesses against you by being good friends 
with you ; you could not have got on with the world 
so well, without surrendering something which was 
precious and sacred. The world likes you, all but 
your professed creed ; distinguishes you from your 
creed in its judgment of you, and would fain separate 
you from it in fact. Men say, " These persons are 
better than their Church ; we have not a word to 
say for their Church ; but Catholics are not what they 
were, they are very much like other men now. Their 
Creed certainly is bigoted and cruel, but what would 
you have of them ? You cannot expect them to con- 
fess this ; let them change quietly, no one changes in 
public, — be satisfied that they are changed. They are 



1 66 Nature and Grace. 

as fond of the world as we are ; they take up political 
objects as warmly ; they like their own way just as 
well ; they do not like strictness a whit better ; they 
hate spiritual thraldom, and they are half ashamed of 
the Pope and his Councils. They hardly believe any 
miracles now, and are annoyed when their own brethren 
confess that there are such ; they never speak of pur- 
gatory ; they are sore about images ; they avoid the 
subject of Indulgences ; and they will not commit 
themselves to the doctrine of exclusive salvation. The 
Catholic doctrines are now mere badges of party. 
Catholics think for themselves and judge for them- 
selves, just as we do ; they are kept in their Church 
by a point of honour, and a reluctance at seeming to 
abandon a fallen cause." 

Such is the judgment of the world, and you, my 
brethren, are shocked to hear it ; — but may it not be, 
that the world knows more about you than you know 
about yourselves ? " If ye had been of the world," 
says Christ, " the world would love its own ; but be- 
cause ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you 
out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." So 
speaks Christ of His Apostles. How run His words 
when applied to you ? " If ye be of the world, the 
world will love its own; therefore ye are of the world, 
and I have not chosen you out of the world, because the 
world doth love you." Do not complain of the world's 
imputing to you more than is true; those who live as 
the world lives give countenance to those who think 
them of the world, and seem to form but one party 
with them. In proportion as you put off the yoke 



Nature and Grace. 167 

of Christ, so does the world by a sort of instinct re- 
cognize you, and think well of you accordingly. Its 
highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve. 
my brethren, there is an eternal enmity between 
the world and the Church. The Church declares by 
the mouth of an Apostle, " Whoso will be a friend of 
the world, becomes an enemy of God;" and the world 
retorts, and calls the Church apostate, sorceress, 
Beelzebub, and Antichrist. She is the image and the 
mother of the predestinate, and, if you would be found 
among her children when you die, you must have part 
in her reproach while you live. Does not the world 
scoff at all that is glorious, all that is majestic, in our 
holy religion ? Does it not speak against the special 
creations of God's grace ? Does it not disbelieve the 
possibility of purity and chastity ? Does it not slander 
the profession of celibacy ? Does it not deny the 
virginity of Mary ? Does it not cast out her very 
name as evil ? Does it not scorn her as " a dead 
woman," whom you know to be the Mother of all 
the living, and the great Intercessor of the faithful ? 
Does it not ridicule the Saints ? Does it not make 
light of their relics ? Does it not despise the Sacra- 
ments ? Does it not blaspheme the awful Presence 
which dwells upon our altars, and mock bitterly and 
fiercely at our believing that what it calls bread and 
wine is that very same Body and Blood of the Lamb, 
which lay in Mary's womb and hung on the Cross ? 
What are we, that we should be better treated than 
our Lord, and His Mother, and His servants, and His 
works ? Nay, what are we, if we he better treated. 



1 68 Nature and Grace. 

but friends of those who thus treat us well, and who 
ill-treat Him ? 

O my dear brethren, be children of grace, not of 
nature; be not seduced by this world's sophistries 
and assumptions ; it pretends to be the work of God, 
but in reality it comes of Satan. "I know My 
sheep," says our Lord, " and Mine know Me, and 
they follow Me." "Show me, Thou whom my 
soul loveth," says the Bride in the Canticle, " where 
Thou feedest, where Thou restest at noon:" and He 
answers her, " Go forth, and follow after the steps of 
the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' 
tents." Let us follow the Saints, as they follow 
Christ ; so that, when He comes in judgment, and the 
wretched world sinks to perdition, " on us sinners. 
His servants, hoping in the multitude of His mercies. 
He may vouchsafe to bestow some portion and fellow- 
ship with His Holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, 
Stephen, "Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, 
Marcelline, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, 
Agnes, Cicely, Anastasia, and all His Saints, not for 
the value of our merit, but according to the bounty of 
His pardon, through the same Christ our Lord." 



DISCOURSE IX. 

ILLUMINATING GRACE. 

TTTHEN man was created, he was endowed withal 
' ' with gifts above his own nature, by means of 
which that nature was perfected. As some potent 
stimulant which is not nourishment, a scent or a 
draught, rouses, invigorates, concentrates our animal 
powers, gives keenness to our perceptions, and inten- 
sity to our efforts, so, or rather in some far higher 
sense, and in more diversified ways, did the super- 
natural grace of God give a meaning, and an aim, and 
a sufficiency, and a consistency, and a certainty, to 
the many faculties of that compound of soul and body, 
which constitutes man. And when man fell, he lost 
this divine, unmerited gift, and, instead of soaring 
heavenwards, fell down feeble to the earth, in a state 
of exhaustion and collapse. And, again, when God, 
for Christ's sake, is about to restore any one to His 
favour. His first act of mercy is to impart to him a 
portion of this grace ; the first-fruits of that sovereign, 
energetic power, which forms and harmonizes his 
whole nature, and enables it to fulfil its own end, 
while it fulfils one higher than its own, 

Now, one of the defects which man incurred on the 
fall was ignorance, or spiritual blindness ; and one of 



170 Illuminating Grace. 

the gifts received on his restoration is a perception of 
things spiritual ; so that, before he is brought under 
the grace of Christ, he can but inquire, reason, argue, 
and conclude, about religious truth ; but afterwards 
he sees it. " Blessed art Thou, Simon, Son of Jona," 
said our Lord to St. Peter, when he confessed the In- 
carnation, " for flesh and blood hath not revealed it 
to thee, but My Father, which is in heaven." Again: 
" I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and hath revealed them unto little ones. . . . 
No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and no one 
knoweth the Son but the Father, and he to whom it 
shall please the Son to reveal Him." In like manner 
St. Paul says, " The animal " or natural " man per- 
ceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ;" and 
elsewhere, "No one can say the Lord Jesus, but in 
the Holy Ghost." And St. John, "Ye have an 
unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." 
The Prophets had promised the same gift before Christ 
came ; — " I will make all thy sons taught of the 
Lord," says Isaias, " and the multitude of peace upon 
thy sons ;" "No more," says Jeremias, "shall man 
teach his neighbour, and man his brother, saying. 
Know the Lord, for all shall know Me from the least 
of them even to the greatest of them." 

Now here you may say, my brethren, " What is the 
meaning of this ? are we men, or are we not ? have 
we lost part of our nature by the fall, or have we not? 
is not the Eeason a part of man's nature ? does not 
the Eeason see, as the eye does ? cannot we, by the 



Illuminating Grace. 171 

natural power of our Reason, understand all kinds of 
truths, about this earth, about human society, about 
the realms of space, about matter, about the soul ? 
why should religion be an exception ? Why, then, 
cannot we understand by our natural reason about 
Almighty God and heaven ? — if we can inquire into 
one thing, we can inquire into another ; if we can 
imagine one thing, we can imagine another ; how 
then is it that we cannot arrive at the truths of re- 
ligion without the supernatural aid of grace ?" This 
is a question which may give rise to some profitable 
reflections, and I shall now attempt to answer it. 

You ask, what it is you need, besides eyes, in order 
to see the truths of revelation : T will tell you at once; 
you need light. Not the keenest eyes can see in the 
dark. Now, tliough your mind be the eye, the grace 
of God is the light ; and you will as easily exercise 
your eyes in this sensible world without the sun, as 
you will be able to exercise your mind in the spiritual 
world without a parallel gift from without. Now you 
are born under a privation of this blessed spiritual 
light ; and, while it remains, you will not, cannot, 
really see God. I do not say you will have no thought 
at all about God, nor be able to talk about Him. 
True, but you will not be able to do more than 
reason about Him. Your thoughts and your words 
will not get beyond a mere reasoning. I grant then 
what you claim ; you claim to be able by your mental 
powers to reason about God ; doubtless you can, but 
to infer a thing is not to see it in respect to the 
physical world, nor is it in the spiritual. 



172 Ilhnninating Grace. 

Consider the case of a man without eyes talking 
about forms and colours, and you will understand 
what I mean. A blind man may pick up a good deal 
of information of various kinds, and be very conversant 
with the objects of sight, though he does not see. He 
may be able to talk about them fluently, and may be 
fond of doing so ; he may even talk of seeing as if he 
really saw, till he almost seems to pretend to the 
faculty of sight. He speaks of heights and distances, 
and directions, and the dispositions of places, and 
shapes, and appearances, as naturally as other men ; 
and he is not duly aware of his own extreme privation ; 
and, if you ask how this comes about, it is partly 
because he hears what other men say about these 
things, and he is able to imitate them, and partly 
because he cannot help reasoning upon the things he 
hears, and drawing conclusions from them ; and thus 
he comes to think he knows what he does not know 
at all. 

He hears men converse ; he may have books read to 
him ; he gains vague ideas of objects of sight, and 
when he begins to speak, his words are tolerably 
correct, and do not at once betray how little he knows 
what he is talking about. He infers one thing from 
another, and thus is able to speak of many things 
which he does not see, but only perceives must be so, 
granting other things are so. For instance, if he 
knows that blue and yellow make green, he may pro- 
nounce, without a chance of mistake, that green is 
more like blue than yellow is ; if he happens to know 
that one man is under six feet in height, and another 



Illuminating Grace. 173 

is full six feet, he may, when they are both before 
him, boldly declare, as if he saw, that the latter is the 
taller of the two. It is not that he judges by sight, 
but that reason takes the place of it. There was 
much talk in the world some little time since of a 
man of science, who was said to have found out a new 
planet ; how did he do it ? Did he w^atch night after 
night, wearily and perseveringly, in the chill air^ 
through the tedious course of the starry heavens, for 
what he might possibly find there, till at length, by 
means of some powerful glass, he discovered in the 
dim distance this unexpected addition to our planetary 
system ? Ear from it ; it is said, that he sat at his 
ease in his library, and made calculations on paper in 
the daytime, and thus, without looking once up at the 
sky, he determined, from what was already known 
of the sun and the planets, of their number, their 
positions, their motions, and their influences, that, in 
addition to them all, there must be some other body 
in that very place Vi^here he said it would be found, if 
astronomers did but turn their instruments upon it. 
Here was a man reading the heavens, not with eyes„ 
but by reason. Eeason, then, is a sort of substitute 
for sight ; and so in many respects are the other 
senses, as is obvious. You know how quick the blind 
are often found to be in discovering the presence of 
friends, and the feelings of strangers, by the voice,, 
and the tone, and the tread ; so that they seem to 
understand looks, and gestures, and dumb show, as if 
they saw, to the surprise of those who wish to keep 
their meaning secret from them. 



174 Illuminating Grace. 

Now tliis will explain the way in which the natural 
man is able partly to understand, and still more to 
speak upon, supernatural subjects. There is a large 
floating body of Catholic truth in the world ; it comes 
down by tradition from age to age ; it is carried for- 
ward by preaching and profession from one generation 
to another, and is poured about into all quarters of 
the world. It is found in fulness and purity in the 
Church alone, but portions of it, larger or smaller, 
escape far and wide, and penetrate into places which 
have never been blest with her presence and ministra- 
tion. Now men may take up and profess these scat- 
tered truths, merely because they fall in with them ; 
these fragments of Eevelation, such as the doctrine of 
the Holy Trinity, or the Atonement, are the religion 
which they have been taught in their childhood ; and 
therefore they may retain them, and profess them, and 
repeat them, without really seeing them, as the Catholic 
sees them, but as receivng them merely by word of 
mouth, from imitation of others. And in this way 
it often happens that a man external to the Catholic 
Church writes sermons and instructions, draws up 
and arranges devotions, or composes hymns, which are 
faultless, or nearly so, which are the fruit, not of his 
own illuminated mind, but of his careful study, some- 
times of his accurate translation, of Catholic originals. 
Then, again, Catholic truths and rites are so beautiful, 
so great, so consolatory, that they draw one on to love 
and admire them with a natural love, as a prospect 
might attract us, or a skilful piece of mechanism. Hence 
men of lively imagination may profess this doctrine 



Illuminating Grace. 175 

or that, or adopt this or that ceremony or usage, for 
its very beauty-sake, not asking themselves whether 
it be true, and having no real perception or mental 
hold of it. Thus, too, they will decorate their churches, 
stretch and strain their ritual, introduce candles, vest- 
ments, flowers, incense, and processions, not from 
faith, but from poetical feeling. And, moreover, the 
Catholic Creed, as coming from God, is so harmonious, 
so consistent with itself, holds together so perfectly, 
so corresponds part to part, that an acute mind, know- 
ing one portion of it, would often infer another portion, 
merely as a matter of just reasoning. Thus a correct 
thinker might be sure, that if God is infinite and man 
finite, there must be mysteries in religion. It is not 
that he really feels the mysteriousness of religion, but 
he infers it ; he is led to it as a matter of necessity, 
and from mere clearness of mind and love of consist- 
ency, he maintains it. Again, a man may say, " Since 
this or that doctrine has so much historical evidence in 
its favour, I must accept it ;" he has no real sight or 
direct perception of it, but he takes up the profession 
of it, because he feels it would be absurd, under the 
conditions with which he starts, to do otherwise. He 
does no more than load himself with a form of words 
instead of contemplating, with the eye of the soul, 
God Himself, the source of all truth, and this doctrine 
as proceeding from His mouth. A keen, sagacious 
intellect will carry a man a great way in anticipating 
doctrines which he has never been told ; — thus, before 
it knew what Scripture said on the subject, it might 
argue ; " Sin is an offence against God beyond con- 



176 Illuminating Grace. 

ception great, and involving vast evils on the sinner, 
for, if it were not so, why should Christ have suffered ?" 
that is, he sees that it is necessary for the Christian 
system of doctrine that sin should be a great evil, 
without necessarily feeling in his conscience that it is 
so. Nay, 1 can fancy a man conjecturing that our 
bodies would rise again, as arguing it out from the 
fact that the Eternal God has so honoured our mortal 
flesh as to take it upon Him as part of Himself. Thus 
he would be receiving the resurrection, nay, eternal 
punishment merely as truths which follow from what 
he knew already. And in like manner learned men, 
outside the Church, may compose most useful works on 
the Evidences of religion, or in defence of particular 
doctrines, or in explanation of the whole scheme of 
Catholicity ; in these cases reason becomes the hand- 
maid of faith : still it is not faith ; it does not rise 
above an intellectual view or notion ; it affirms, not 
as grasping the truth, not as seeing, but as " being 
of opinion," as "judging," as "coming to a conclu- 
sion." 

Here, then, you see what the natural man can do ; 
he can feel, he can imagine, he can admire, he can 
reason, he can infer ; in all these ways he may pro- 
ceed to receive the whole or part of Catholic truth ; 
but he cannot see, he cannot love. Yet he will perplex 
religious persons who do not understand the secret 
by which he is able to make so imposing a display ; 
for they will be at a loss to understand how it is 
that he is able to speak so well, except he speak, though 
he be out of the Church, by the Spirit of God. Thus 



Illuminating Grace. lyy 

it is with the writing of some of the ancient heretics, 
who wrote upon the Incarnation ; so it is with 
heretics of modern times who have written on the 
doctrine of grace ; they write sometimes with such 
heauty and depth, that one cannot help admiring what 
they say on those very subjects, as to which we know 
withal that at the bottom they are unsound. But, my 
brethren, the sentiments may be right and good in 
themselves, but not in those men ; these are the solitary 
truths which they have happened to infer in a range 
of matters about which they see and know nothing, and 
their heresy on other points, which are close upon the 
acceptance of these truths, is a proof that they do not 
see what they speak of. A blind man, discoursing 
upon form and colour, might say some things truly, 
and some things falsely ; but even one mistake 
which he happened to make, though only one, would 
be enough to betray that he had no real possession of 
the truths which he enunciated, though they were 
many ; for, had he had eyes, he not only would have 
been correct in many, but would have been mistaken 
in none. For instance, supposing that he knew that 
two buildings were the same in height, he might per- 
haps be led boldly to pronounce that their appearance 
was the same when he looked at them, not knowing 
that the greater distance of the one of them from us 
might reduce it to the eye to half or a fourth of the 
other. And thus men who are not in the Church, 
and who have no practical experience of Catholic 
devotion to the Blessed Mother of God, when they read 
our prayers and litanies, and observe the strength of 

12 



1 78 Illuminating Grace. 

their language, and the length to which they go, con- 
fidently assert that she is, in every sense and way, 
the object of our worship, to the exclusion, or in 
rivalry, of the Supreme God ; not understanding that 
He " in whom we live, and move and are," who new- 
creates us with His grace, and who feeds us with His 
own Body and Blood, is closer to us and more inti- 
mately with us than any creature ; that Saints and 
Angels, and the Blessed Virgin herself, are neces- 
sarily at a distance from us, compared with Him, and, 
that whatever language we use towards them, though 
it be the same as that which we use to our Maker, 
it only carries with it a sense which is due and 
proportionate to the object we address. And thus 
these objectors are detected, as Catholics feel, by their 
objection itself, as really knowing and seeing nothing 
of what they dispute about. 

And now I have explained sufficiently what is 
meant by saying that the natural man holds divine 
truths merely as an opinion and not as a point of 
faith ; grace believes, reason does but opine ; grace 
gives certainty, reason is never decided. Now it is 
remarkable that this characteristic of reason is so 
clearly understood by the persons themselves of whom 
I am speaking, that, in spite of the confidence which 
they have in their own opinions, whatever that be, 
still, conscious that they have no grounds for real 
and fixed conviction about revealed truth, they boldly 
face the difficulty, and consider it a fault to be cer- 
tain about revealed truth, and a merit to doubt. For 
instance, " the Holy Catholic Church " is a point of 



Illuminating Grace. 1 79 

faith, as being one of the articles of the Apostles' 
Creed; yet they think it an impatience to be dissatis- 
fied with uncertainty as to where the Catholic Church 
is, and what she says. They are well aware that no 
man alive of fair abilities would put undoubting faith 
and reliance in the Church Established, except by 
doing violence to his reason ; they know that the 
sreat mass of its members in no sense believe in it, 
and that of the remainder no one could say more than 
that it indirectly comes from God, and that it is 
safest to remain in it. There is, in these persons, no 
faith, only a mere opinion, about this article of the 
Creed. Accordingly they are obliged to say, in mere 
defence of their own position, that faith is not neces- 
sary, and a state of doubt is sufficient, and all that is 
expected of us. In consequence they attribute it to 
mere restlessness, when one of their own members 
seeks to exercise faith in tlie Holy Catholic Church as 
a revealed truth, as they themselves profess to exer- 
cise it in the Holy Trinity or our Lord's resurrection, 
and when in consequence he hunts about, and asks 
on all sides, how he is to do so. Nay, they go so far 
as to impute it to a Catholic as a fault, when he mani- 
fests a simple trust in the Church and her teaching. 
It sometimes happens that those who join the Catholic 
Church from some Protestant communion, are ob- 
served to change the uncertainty and hesitation of 
mind on religious subjects, which they showed before 
their conversion, into a clear and fearless confidence 
they doubted about their old communion, they have 
no doubt about their new. They have no fears, no 



i8o Illuminating Grace. 

anxieties, no difficulties, no scruples. They speak, 
accordingly, as they feel ; and the world, not under- 
standing that this is the effect of the grace which (as 
we may humbly trust) these happy souls have received, 
— not understanding that, though it has full experience 
of the region of the shadow of death in which it lies, 
it has none at all of that city, whereof the Lord God 
and the Lamb is the light, — measuring what Catholics 
have by what itself has not, the world, I say, cries 
out, " How forward, how unnatural, how excited, how 
extravagant ; " and it considers that such a change is 
a change for the worse, and is proved to be a mistake 
and a fault, because it produces precisely that effect, 
which it would produce were it a change for the 
better. 

It tells us that certainty, and confidence, and bold- 
ness in speech are unchristian ; is this pleading a 
cause, or a judgment from facts ? Was it confidence 
or doubt, was it zeal or coldness, was it keenness or 
irresolution in action, which distinguished the Martyrs 
in the first ages of the Church ? Was the religion of 
Christ propagated by the vehemence of faith and love, 
or by a philosophical balance of arguments ? Look 
back at the early Martyrs, my brethren, what were 
they ? why, they were very commonly 3'ouths and 
maidens, soldiers and slaves ; — a set of hot-headed 
young men, who would have lived to be wise, had 
they not been obstinately set on dying first ; who tore 
down imperial manifestos, broke the peace, challenged 
the judges to dispute, would not rest till they got into 
the same den with a lion, and who, if chased out of 



Ilhmiinating Grace. i8i 

one city, began preaching in another ! So said the 
blind world about those who saw the Unseen. Yes ! 
it was the spiritual sight of God which made them 
what they were. No one is a Martyr for a conclusion, 
no one is a Martyr for an opinion ; it is faith that 
makes Martyrs. He who knows and loves the things 
of God has no power to deny them ; he may have a 
natural shrinking from torture and death, but such 
terror is incommensurate with faith, and as little acts 
upon it as dust and mire touch the sun's light, or 
scents or voices could stop a wheel in motion. The 
Martyrs saw, and how could they but speak what they 
had seen ? They might shudder at the pain, but they 
had not the power not to see ; if threats could undo 
the heavenly truths, then might pain silence their con- 
fession of them. my brethren, the world is inquir- 
ing, and large-minded, and knows many things; it 
talks well and profoundly ; but is there one among its 
Babel of religious opinions which it would be a Martyr 
for ? Some of them may be true, and some false ; let it 
choose any one of them to die for. Its children talk 
loudly, they declaim angrily against the doctrine that 
God is an avenger ; would they die rather than con- 
fess it ? They talk eloquently of the infinite indul- 
gence of God ; would they die rather than deny it ? 
If not, they have not even enthusiasm, they have not 
even obstinacy, they have not even bigotry, they have 
not even party spirit to sustain them, — much less 
have they grace ; they speak upon opinion only, and 
by an inference. Again, there are those who call on 
men to trust the Established Communion, as consider- 



1 82 Illuminating Grace. 

ing it to be a branch of the Catholic Church ; they 
may urge that this opinion can be cogently defended, 
but an opinion it is ; for say, ye who hold it, how 
many of you would die rather than admit a doubt about 
it? Do you now hold it sinful to doubt it? or rather, 
as I have said, do you not think it allowable, natural, 
necessary, becoming, humble-minded and sober- 
minded to doubt it ? do you not almost think better 
of a man for doubting it, provided he does not follow 
his doubts out and end in disbelieving it ? 

Hence these very same persons, who speak so 
severely of any one who leaves the communion in 
which he was born, doubting of it themselves, are in 
consequence led to view his act as an affront done to 
their body, rather than as an evil to himself. They 
consider it as a personal affront to a party and an 
injury to a cause, and the affront is greater or less 
according to the mischief which it does them in the 
particular case. It is not his loss but their incon- 
venience, which is the real measure of his sin. If a 
person is in any way important or useful to them, 
they will protest against his act ; if he is troublesome 
to them, if he goes (as they say) too far, if he is a 
scandal, or a centre of perverse influence, or in any 
way disturbs the order and welfare of their body, they 
are easily reconciled to his leaving them ; the more 
courteous of them congratulate him on his honesty, 
and the more bitter congratulate themselves on being 
rid of him. Is such the feeling of a mother and of 
kinsmen towards a son and a brother ? " can a woman 
forget her babe, that she should not have compassion 



Illuminating Grace. 183 

on the son of her womb ? " Did a man leave the 
Catholic Church, our first feeling, my brethren, as 
you know so well, would be one of compassion and 
fear ; we should consider that, though we were even 
losing one who was a scandal to us, still that our 
gain would be nothing in comparison of his loss. We 
know that a man cannot desert the Church without 
quenching an inestimable gift of grace ; that he has 
already received a definite influence and effect upon 
his soul, such, that he cannot dispossess himself of it 
without the gravest sin ; that, though he may have 
had many temptations to disbelieve, they are only like 
temptations to sensuality, harmless without his will- 
ing co-operation. This is why the Church cannot sanc- 
tion him in his reconsidering the question of her own 
divine mission ; she holds that such inquiries, though 
the appointed means of entering her pale, are super- 
seded on his entrance by the gift of a spiritual sight, 
a gift which consumes doubt so utterly, in any proper 
sense of the word, that henceforth it is not that he 
must not, but that he cannot entertain it ; cannot 
entertain it except by his own great culpability ; and 
therefore must not, because he cannot. This is what 
we hold and are conscious of, my brethren ; and, as 
holding it, we never could feel satisfaction and relief, 
on first hearing of the defection of a brother, be he 
ever so unworthy, ever so scandalous ; our first feeling 
would be sorrow. We are, in fact, often obliged to 
bear with scandalous members against our will, from 
charity to them; but those, whose highest belief is 
but an inference, who are obliged to go over in their 



184 Illuminating Grace. 

minds from time to time the reasons and the ground 
of their creed, lest they should suddenly find them- 
selves left without their conclusion, these persons not 
having faith, have no opportunity for charity, and 
think that when a man leaves them who has given 
them any trouble, it is a double gain — to him, that he 
is where he is better fitted to be ; to themselves, that 
they are at peace. 

What I have been saying will account for another 
thing, which otherwise will surprise us. The world 
cannot believe that Catholics really hold what they 
profess to hold ; and supposes that, if they are educated 
men, they are kept up to their profession by external 
influence, by superstitious fear, by pride, by interest, 
or other bad or unworthy motive. Men of the world 
have never believed in their whole life, never have had 
simple faith in things unseen, never have had more 
than an opinion about them, that they might be true 
and might be false, but probably were true, or doubt- 
less were true ; and in consequence they think an 
absolute, unhesitating faith in anything unseen to be 
simply an extravagance, and especially when it is ex- 
ercised on objects which they do not believe them- 
selves, or even reject with scorn or abhorrence. And 
hence they prophesy that the Catholic Church must 
lose, in proportion as men are directed to the sober 
examination of their own thouohts and feelings, and 
to the separation of what is real and true from what is 
a matter of words and pretence. They cannot under- 
stand how our faith in the Blessed Sacrament is a 
genuine living portion of our minds ; they think it a 



Illuminating Grace. 185 

mere profession which we embrace with no inward 
assent, but only because we are told that we should be 
lost unless we profess it ; or because, the Catholic 
Church having in dark ages committed herself to it, 
we cannot help ourselves, though we would, if we 
could, and therefore receive it by constraint, from a 
sense of duty towards our cause, or in a spirit of party. 
They will not believe that we would not gladly get 
rid of the doctrine of transubstantiation, as a heavy 
stone about our necks, if we could. What shocking 
words to use ! It would be wrong to use them, were 
they not necessary to makb you understand, my 
brethren, the privilege which you have, and the world 
has not. Shocking indeed and most profane ! a relief 
to rid ourselves of the doctrine that Jesus is on our 
Altars ! as well say a relief to rid ourselves of the 
belief that Jesus is God, to rid ourselves of the belief 
that there is a God. Yes, that I suppose is the true 
relief, to believe nothing at all, or, at least, not to be 
bound to believe anything ; to believe first one thing, 
then another ; to believe what we please for as long as 
we please ; that is, not really to believe, but to have an 
opinion about everything, and let nothing sit close 
upon us, to commit ourselves to nothing, to keep the 
unseen world altogether at a distance. But if we are 
to believe anything at all, if we are to make any one 
heavenly doctrine our own, if we are to take some 
dogmas as true, why, in that case, it should be a 
burden to believe what is so gracious and what so 
concerns us, rather than what is less intimate and less 
winning, — why we must not believe that God is among 



i86 Illuminating Grace. 

us, if God there is, why we may not believe that God 
dwells on our Altars as well as that He dwells in the 
sky, certainly is not so self-evident, but that we have 
a claim to ask the reasons for it of those, who profess 
to be so rational and so natural in all their determina- 
tions. my brethren, how narrow-minded is this 
world at bottom after all, in spite of its pretences and 
in spite of appearances ! Here you see, it cannot 
by a stretch of imagination conceive that anything 
exists, of which it has not cognizance in its own 
heart ; it will not admit into its imagination the mere 
idea that we have faith, because it does not know what 
faith is from experience, and it will not admit that 
there is anything in the mind of man which it does 
not experience itself, for that would be all one with 
admitting after all that there is such a thing as a 
mystery. It must know, it must be the measure of 
all things ; and so in self-defence it considers us 
hypocritical, as professing what we cannot believe, 
lest it should be forced to confess itself blind. " Be- 
hold what manner of love the Father had bestowed 
on us, that we should be named, and should be, the 
sons of God ; therefore the world knoweth not us, 
because it knoweth not Him ! " 

It is for the same reason that inquirers, who are 
approaching the Church, find it difficult to persuade 
themselves that their doubts wiU not continue after 
they have entered it. This is the reason they assign for 
not becoming Catholics ; for what is tobecomeof them, 
they ask, if their present doubts continue after their 
conversion ? they will have nothing to fall back upon. 



Illuminating Grace. 187 

They do not reflect that their present difficulties are 
moral ones, not intellectual ; — I mean, that it is not 
that they really doubt whetherthe conclusion at which 
they have arrived, that the Catholic Church comes 
from God, is true ; this they do not doubt in their 
reason at all, but that they cannot rule their mind to 
grasp and keep hold of this truth. They recognize it 
dimly, though certainly, as the sun through mists and 
clouds, and they forget that it is the office of grace to 
clear up gloom and haziness, to steady that fitful vision, 
to perfect reason by faith, aud to convert a logical con- 
clusion into an object of intellectual sight. And thus 
they will not credit it as possible, when we assure 
them of what we have seen in so many instances, 
that all their trouble will go, when once they have 
entered the communion of Saints and the atmosphere 
of grace and light, and that they will be so full of 
peace and joy as not to know how to thank God 
enough, and from the very force of their feelings and 
the necessity of relieving them, they will set about 
converting others with a sudden zeal which contrasts 
strangely with their late vacillation. 

Two remarks I must add in conclusion, in explana- 
tion of what I have been saying. 

First, do not suppose I have been speaking in dis- 
paragement of human reason : it is the way to faith ; 
its conclusions are often the very objects of faith. It 
precedes faith, when souls are converted to the 
Catholic Church ; and it is the instrument which the 
Church herself is guided to make use of, when she is 
called upon to put forth those definitions of doctrine. 



1 88 Illuminating Grace. 

in which, according to the promise and power of her 
Lord and Saviour, she is infallible ; but still reason 
is one thing and faith is another, and reason can as 
little be made a substitute for faith, as faith can be 
made a substitute for reason. 

Again, I have been speaking as if a state of nature 
were utterly destitute of the influences of grace, and as 
if those who are external to the Church acted simply 
from nature. Recollect, I have so spoken for the sake 
of distinctness, that grace and nature might clearly 
be contrasted with each other ; but it is not the fact. 
God gives His grace to all men, and to those who 
profit by it He gives more grace, and even those who 
quench it still have the offer. Hence some men act 
simply from nature ; some act from nature in some 
respects, not in others ; others are yielding themselves 
to the guidance of the assistances given them ; others, 
who have faithfully availed themselves of that guidance 
and are sincerely in search of the Church and her gifts, 
may even already be in a state of justification. Hence 
it is impossible to apply what has been said above to 
individuals, whose hearts are a secret with God. 
Many, I repeat, are under the influence partly of 
reason and partly of faith, believe some things firmly, 
and have but an opinion on others. Many are in con- 
flict with themselves, and are advancing to a crisis, 
after which they embrace or recede from the truth. 
Many are using the assistances of grace so well, that 
they are in the way to receive its permanent indwell- 
ing in their hearts. Many, we may trust, are enjoying 
that permanent light, and are coming steadily and 



Illuminating Grace. 189 

securely into the Church ; some, alas ! may have 
received it, and, as not advancing towards the Holy 
House in which it is stored, are losing it, and, though 
they know it not, are living only by the recollections 
of what was once present within them. These are 
secret things with God ; but the great and general 
truths remain, that nature cannot see God, and that 
grace is the sole means of seeing Him ; and tliat^ 
while grace enables us to do so, it also brings us into His 
Church, and is never given us for our illumination, 
without being also given to make us Catholics. 

my dear brethren, what joy and what thankful- 
ness should be ours, that God has brought us into the 
Church of His Son ! What gift is equal to it in the 
whole world in its preciousness and in its rarity ? In 
this country in particular, where heresy ranges far 
and wide, where uncultivated nature has so undisputed 
a field all her own, where grace is given to great 
numbers only to be profaned and quenched, where 
baptisms only remain in their impress and character,, 
and faith is ridiculed for its very firmness, for us to 
find ourselves here in the region of light, in the home 
of peace, in the presence of Saints, to find ourselves 
where we can use every faculty of the mind and 
affection of the heart in its perfection because in its 
appointed place and office, to find ourselves in the 
possession of certainty, consistency, stability, on the 
highest and holiest subjects of human thought, to 
have hope here and heaven hereafter, to be on the 
Mount with Christ, while the poor world is guessing 
and quarrelling at its foot, who among us shall not 



I go Illuminating Grace. 

wonder at his own blessedness? who shall not be awe- 
struck at the inscrutable grace of God, which has 
Ijrought himself, not others, where he stands ? As 
the Apostle says, " Through our Lord Jesus Christ 
let us have by faith access into this grace wherein we 
stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons 
of God. And hope confoundeth not ; because the 
love of God is poured out into our hearts by the 
Holy Ghost who is given to us." And, as St. John 
says, still more exactly to our purpose, " Ye have an 
unction from the Holy One;" — your eyes are anointed 
by Him who put clay on the eyes of the blind man ; 
" from Him have you an unction, and ye know," not 
conjecture, or suppose, or opine, but "know," see, "all 
things." " So let the unction which you have received 
of Him abide in you. Nor need ye that any one teach 
you, but as His unction teaches you of all things, and 
is true and no lie, and hath taught you, so abide in 
Him." You can abide in nothing else ; opinions 
change, conclusions are feeble, inquiries run their 
course, reason stops short, but faith alone reaches to 
the end, faith only endures. Faith and prayer alone 
will endure in that last dark hour, when Satan urges 
all his powers and resources against the sinking soul. 
What will it avail ^ us then, to have devised some 



^ Te maris et terife, numeroque carentis arense 

Mensorem cohibent, Archyta, 
Pulveris exigui prope littus parva Matinum 

Munera ; nee quicqiiam tibi prodest 
Aeiios tentasse domos, animoque rotundum 

Percurrisse polum, morituro ! 



1 Ihmiinating Grace. 191 

subtle argument, or to have led some brilliant attack, 
or to have mapped out the field of history, or to have 
numbered and sorted the weapons of controversy, and 
to have the homage of friends and the respect of the 
world for our successes, — what will it avail to have 
had a position, to have followed out a work, to have 
re-animated an idea, to have made a cause to triumph, 
if after all we have not the light of faith to guide us 
on from this world to the next ? 0, how fain shall 
we be in that day to exchange our place with the 
humblest, and dullest, and most ignorant of the sons 
of men, rather than to stand before the judgment- 
seat in the lot of him who has received great gifts 
from God, and used them for self and for man, who 
has shut his eyes, who has trilled with truth, who 
has repressed his misgivings, who has been led on by 
God's grace, but stopped short of its scope, who has 
neared the land of promise, yet not gone forward to 
take possession of it ! 



DISCOURSE X. 

FAITH AND PRIVATE JUDGMENT. 

TXTHEN we consider the beauty, the majesty, the 
' completeness, the resources, the consolations, 

of the Catholic Eeligion, it may strike us with won- 
der, my brethren, that it does not convert the multi- 
tude of those who come in its way. Perhaps you have 
felt this surprise yourselves ; especially those of you 
who have been recently converted, and can compare 
it, from experience, with those religions which the 
millions of this country choose instead of it. You 
know, from experience, how barren, unmeaning, and 
baseless those religions are; what poor attractions 
they have, and how little they have to say for them- 
selves. Multitudes, indeed, are of no religion at all ; 
and you may not be surprised that those who cannot 
even bear the thought of God, should not feel drawn 
to His Church ; numbers, too, hear very little about 
Catholicism, or a great deal of abuse and calumny 
against it, and you may not be surprised that they do 
not all at once become Catholics ; but what may fairly 
surprise those who enjoy the fulness of Catholic bless- 
ings is, that those who see the Church ever so dis- 
tantly, who see even gleams or the faint lustre of her 



Faith and Private Judgment. 193 

majesty, nevertheless should not be so far attracted 
by what they see as to seek to see more, — should not 
at least put themselves in the way to be led on to the 
Truth, which of course is not ordinarily recognized in 
its divine authority except by degrees. Moses, when 
he saw the burning bush, turned aside to see " that 
great sight ;" Nathanael, though he thought no good 
could come out of Nazareth, at least followed Philip to 
Christ, when Philip said to him, " Come and see ; " 
but the multitudes about us see and hear, in some , 
measure, surely, — many in ample measure, — and yet 
are not persuaded thereby to see and hear more, are 
not moved to act upon their knowledge. Seeing they 
see not, and hearing they hear not ; they are con- 
tented to remain as they are ; they are not drawn to 
inquire, or at least not drawn on to embrace. 

Many explanations maybe given of this difficulty; 
I will proceed to suggest to you one, which will sound 
like a truism, but yet has a meaning in it. Men do 
not become Catholics, because they have not faith. 
Now you may ask me, how this is saying more than 
that men do not believe the Catholic Church 'because 
they do not believe it ; which is saying nothing at all. 
Our Lord, for instance, says, " He who cometh to Me 
shall not hunger, and he who believeth in Me shall 
never thirst •" — to believe then and to come are the 
same thing. If they had faith, of course they would 
join the Church, for the very meaning, the very 
exercise of faith, is joining the Church. But I mean 
something more than this : faith is a state of mind, it 
is a particular mode of thinking and acting, which is 

13 



194 Faith and Private Judgment. 

exercised, always indeed towards God, but in very- 
various ways. Now I mean to say, that the multi- 
tude of men in this country have not this habit or 
character of mind. We could conceive, for instance, 
their believing in their own religions, even if they did 
not believe in the Church ; this would be faith, though 
a faith improperly directed ; but they do not believe 
even their own religions ; they do not believe in any- 
thing at all. It is a definite defect in their minds : 
as we might say that a person had not the virtue of 
meekness, or of liberality, or of prudence, quite in- 
dependently of this or that exercise of the virtue, so 
there is such a religious virtue as faith, and there is 
such a defect as the absence of it. . Now I mean to say 
that the great mass of men in this country have not 
this particular virtue called faith, have not this virtue 
at all. As a man might be without eyes or without 
hands, so they are without faith ; it is a distinct want 
or fault in their soul ; and what I say is, that since. 
they have not this faculty of religious belief, no wonder 
they do n'ot embrace that, which cannot really be em- 
braced without it. They do not believe any teaching 
at all in any true sense ; and therefore they do not 
believe the Church in particular. 

Now, in the first place, what is faith ? it is assenting 
to a doctrine as true, which we do not see, which we 
cannot prove, because God says it is true, who cannot 
lie. And further than this, since God says it is true, 
not with His own voice, but by the voice of His mes- 
sengers, it is assenting to what man says, not simply 
viewed as a man, but to what he is commissioned to 



Faith and Private Jicdgment. 195 

declare, as a messenger, prophet, or ambassador from 
God. In the ordinary course of this world we account 
things true either because we see them, or because 
that we can perceive that they follow and are 
deducible from what we do see; that is, we gain 
truth by sight or by reason, not by faith. You will 
say indeed, that we accept a number of things which 
we cannot prove or see, on the word of others ; 
certainly ; but then we accept what they say only as 
the word of man ; and we have not commonly that 
absolute and unreserved confideuce in them, which 
nothing can shake. "We know that man is open to 
mistake, and we are always glad to find some confir- 
mation of what he says, from other quarters, in any 
important matter ; or we receive his information with 
negligence and unconcern, as something of little con- 
sequence, as a matter of opinion ; or, if we act upon it, 
it is as a matter of prudence, thinking it best and safest 
to do so. We take his word for what it is worth, and 
we use it either according to our necessity, or its 
probability. We keep the decision in our own hands, 
and reserve to ourselves the right of re-opening the 
question whenever we please. This is very different 
from divine faith ; he who believes that God is true, 
and that this is His word, which He has committed 
to man, has no doubt at all. He is as certain that 
the doctrine taught is true, as that God is true ; 
and he is certain, because God is true, because 
God has spoken, not because he sees its truth or 
can prove its truth. That is, faith has two pecu- 
liarities; — it is most certain, decided, positive, im- 



1 96 Faith and Private Jiidgment. 

moveable in its assent, and it gives this assent not 
because it sees with eye, or sees with the reason, but 
because it receives the tidings from one who comes 
from God. 

This is what faith was in the time of the Apostles, 
as no one can deny ; and what it was then, it must be 
now, else it ceases to be the same thing. I say, it 
certainly was this in the Apostles' time, for you know 
they preached to the world that Christ was the Son 
of God, that He was born of a Virgin, that He had 
ascended on high, that He would come again to judge 
all, the living and the dead. Could the world see all 
this ? could it prove it ? how then were men to re- 
ceive it ? why did so many embrace it ? on the word 
of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, 
messengers from God. Men were told to submit 
their reason to a living authority. Moreover, what- 
ever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to 
believe ; when they entered the Church, they entered 
it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher ; 
they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and 
choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. 
No one doubts, no one can doubt this, of those primi- 
tive times. A Christian was bound to take without 
doubting all that the Apostles declared to be re- 
vealed ; if the Apostles spoke, he had to yield an 
internal assent of his mind ; it would not be 
enough to keep silence, it would not be enough 
not to oppose : it was not allowable to credit in a 
measure ; it was not allowable to doubt. No ; if a 
convert had his own yirivate thoughts of what was 



Faith and Private Jzidgment. 197 

said, and only kept them to himself, if he made some 
secret opposition to the teaching, if he waited for 
farther proof before he believed it, this would be a proof 
that he did not think the Apostles were sent from 
God to reveal His will ; it would be a proof that he 
did not in any true sense believe at all. Immediate, 
implicit submission of the mind was, in the lifetime 
of the Apostles, the only, the necessary token of 
faith ; then there was no room whatever for what is 
now called private judgment. Xo one could say, " I 
will choose my religion for myself, I will believe this, 
I will not believe that ; I will pledge myself to 
nothing ; I will believe just as long as I please and 
no longer ; what I believe to-day I will reject to- 
morrow, if I choose. I will believe what the Apostles 
have as yet said, but I will not believe what they 
shall say in time to come." No ; either the Apostles 
were from God, or they were not ; if they were, 
everything that they preached was to be believed by 
their hearers ; if they were not, there was nothing for 
their hearers to believe. To believe a little, to believe 
more or less, was impossible ; it contradicted the very 
notion of believing : if one part was to be believed, 
every part was to be believed ; it was an absurdity 
to believe one thing and not another ; for the word 
of the Apostles, which made the one true, made the 
other true too ; they were nothing in themselves, they 
were all things, they were an infallible authority, as 
coming from God. The world had either to become 
Christian, or to let it alone ; there was no room for 
private tastes and fancies, no room for private judgment. 



198 Faith and Private Judgment. 

Now surely this is quite clear from the nature of the 
case ; but is also clear from the words of Scripture. 
" We give thanks to God," says St. Paul, " without 
ceasing, because when ye had received from us the 
word of hearing, which is of God, ye received it, not 
as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word of 
God." Here you see St. Paul expresses what I have 
said above ; that the word comes from God, that it is 
spoken by men, that it must be received, not as man's 
word, but as God's word. So in another place he 
says, " He who despiseth these things, despiseth not 
man, but God, who hath also given in us His Holy 
Spirit." Our Saviour had made a like declaration 
already, " He that heareth you, heareth Me ; and he 
that despiseth you, despiseth Me ; and he that de- 
spiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me." Accord- 
ingly St. Peter on the day of Pentecost said, " Men 
of Israel, hear these words, God hath raised up this 
Jesus, whereof we are witnesses. Let all the house of 
Israel hiovj most certainly that God hath made this 
Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ." 
At another time he said, " We ought to obey God, 
rather than man; we are witnesses of these things, 
and so is the Hohj Ghost, whom God has given to 
all who obey Him." And again, " He commanded 
us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He 
(Jesus) who hath been appointed by God to be the 
Judge of the living and of the dead." And you know 
that the persistent declaration of the first preachers 
was, " Believe and thou shalt be saved : " they do 
not say, "prove our doctrine by your own reason," 



Faith and Private Judgment. 199 

nor "wait till you see before you believe;" but, 
" believe without seeing and without proving, because 
our word is not our own, but God's word." Men 
might indeed use their reason in inquiring into the 
pretensions of the Apostles; they might inquire 
whether or not they did miracles ; they might inquire 
whether they were predicted in the Old Testament as 
coming from God ; but when they had ascertained 
this fairly in whatever way, they were to take all the 
Apostles said for granted without proof ; they were to 
exercise their faith, they were to be saved by hearing. 
Hence, as you perhaps observed, St. Paul significantly 
calls the revealed doctrine " the word of hearing," in 
the passage I quoted ; men came to hear, to accept, 
to obey, not to criticize what was said ; and in accord- 
ance with this he asks elsewhere, " How shall they 
believe Him, whom they have not heard ? and how 
shall they hear without a preacher ? Faith cometh 
by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." 

Now, my dear brethren, consider, are not these two 
states or acts of mind quite distinct from each other ; 
— to believe simply what a living authority tells you; 
and to take a book, such as Scripture, and to use it 
as you please, to master it, that is, to make yourself 
the master of it, to interpret it for yourself, and to 
admit just what you choose to see in it, and nothing 
more ? Are not these two procedures distinct in 
this, that in the former you submit, in the latter you 
judge ? At this moment I am not asking you which 
is the better, I am not asking whether this or that is 
practicable now, but are they not two ways of taking 



200 Faith and Private Judgment. 

up a doctrine, and not one ? is not submission quite 
contrary to judging ? Now, is it not certain that 
faith in the time of the Apostles consisted in submit- 
ting ? and is it not certain that it did not consist in 
judging for one's self ? It is in vain to say that the 
man who judges from the Apostles' writings, does 
submit to those writings in the first instance, and 
therefore has faith in them ; else why should he refer 
to them at all? There is, I repeat, an essential differ- 
ence between the act of submitting to a living oracle, 
and to his written words; in the former case there is no 
appeal from the speaker, in the latter the final deci- 
sion remains with the reader. Consider how different 
is the confidence with which you report another's 
words in his presence and in his absence. If he be 
absent, you boldly say that he holds so and so, or 
said so and so ; but let him come into the room in the 
midst of the conversation, and your tone is imme- 
diately changed. It is then, " I think I have heard you 
say something like this, or what I took to be this ; " 
or you modify considerably the statement or the fact 
to which you originally pledged him, dropping one- 
half of it for safety-sake, or retrenching the most 
startling portions of it ; and then after all you wait 
with some anxiety to see whether he will accept any 
portion of it at all. The same sort of process takes 
place in the case of the written document of a person 
now dead. I can fancy a man magisterially expound- 
ing St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians or to the Ephe- 
sians, who would be better content with the writer's 
absence than his sudden re-appearance among us ; 



Faith and Private Jttdgment. 201 

lest the Apostle should take his own meaning out of 
his commentator's hands and explain it for himself. 
In a word, though he says he has faith in St. Paul's 
writings, he confessedly has no faith in St. Paul ; and 
though he may speak much about truth as found in 
Scripture, he has no wish at all to be like one of 
these Christians whose names and deeds occur in it. 

I think I may assume that this virtue, which was 
exercised by the first Christians, is not known at all 
among Protestants now ; or at least if there are 
instances of it, it is exercised towards those, I mean 
their ow^n teachers and divines, who expressly disclaim 
that they are fit objects of it, and who exhort their 
people to judge for themselves. Protestants, generally 
speaking, have not faith, in the primitive meaning of 
that word ; this is clear from what I have been saying, 
and here is a confirmation of it. If men believed now, 
as they did in the times of the Apostles, they could 
not doubt nor change. No one can doubt whether a 
word spoken by God is to be believed ; of course it is ; 
whereas any one, who is modest and humble, may 
easUy be brought to doubt of his own inferences and 
deductions. Since men now-a-days deduce from Scrip- 
ture, instead of believing a teacher, you may expect 
to see them waver about ; they will feel the force of 
their own deductions more strongly at one time than 
at another, they will change their minds about them, 
or perhaps deny them altogether ; whereas this cannot 
be, while a man has faith, that is, belief that what a 
preacher says to him comes from God. This is what 
St. Paul especially insists on, telKng us that Apostles, 



202 Faith and Private Judgment. 

prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, are given 
us that,' "we may all attain to unity of faith," and, on 
the contrary, in order "that we be not as children 
tossed to and fro, and carried about by every gale of 
doctrine." Now, in matter of fact, do not men in 
this day change about in their religious opinions 
without any limit ? Is not this, then, a proof that 
they have not that faith which the Apostles demanded 
of their converts ? If they had faith, they would not 
change. Once believe that God has spoken, and you 
are sure He cannot unsay what He has already said ; 
He cannot deceive ; He cannot change ; you have 
received it once for all ; you will believe it ever. 

Such is the only rational, consistent account of 
faith; but so far are Protestants from professing it, 
that they laugh at the very notion of it. They laugh 
at the notion itself of men pinning their faith (as they 
express themselves) upon Pope or Council; they think 
it simply superstitious and narrow-minded, to profess 
to believe just what the Church believes, and to assent 
to whatever she shall say in time to come on matters 
of doctrine. That is, they laugh at the bare notion 
of doing what Christians undeniably did in the time 
of the Apostles. Observe, they do not merely ask 
whether the Catholic Church has a claim to teach, has 
authority, has the gifts; — this is a reasonable question; 
— no, they think that the very state of mind, which 
such a claim involves in those who admit it, namely, 
the disposition to accept without reserve or question, 
that this is slavish. They call it priestcraft to insist 
on this surrender of the reason, and superstition to 



Faith and Private Judgment. 203, 

make it. That is, they quarrel with the very state of 
mind which all Christians had in the age of the 
Apostles ; nor is there any doubt (who will deny it ?) 
that those who thus boast of not being led blindfold^ 
of judging for themselves, of believing just as much 
and just as little as they please, of hating dictation^ 
and so forth, would have found it an extreme difficulty 
to hang on the lips of the Apostles, had they lived at 
their date, or rather would have simply resisted the 
sacrifice of their own liberty of thought, would have 
thought life eternal too dearly purchased at such a 
price, and would have died in their unbelief. And 
they would have defended themselves on the plea 
that it was absurd and childish to ask them to believe 
without proof, to bid them give up their education^ 
and their intelligence, and their science, and, in spite 
of all those difficulties which reason and sense find 
in the Christian doctrine, in spite of its mysteriousness, 
its obscurity, its strangeness, its unacceptableness, its 
severity, to require them to surrender themselves to 
the teaching of a few unlettered Galilaeans, or a learned 
indeed but fanatical Pharisee. This is what they 
would have said then ; and if so, is it wonderful they 
do not become Catholics now ? The simple account 
of their remaining as they are, is, that they lack one 
thing, — they have not faith ; it is a state of mind, it 
is a virtue, which they do not recognize to be praise- 
worthy, which they do not aim at possessing. 

What they feel now, my brethren, is just what both 
Jew and Greek felt before them in the time of the 
Apostles, and what the natural man has felt ever since. 



204 Faith and Private Judgment. 

The great and wise men of the day looked down upon 
faith, then as now, as if it were unworthy the dignity 
of human nature, "See your vocation, brethren, that 
there are not," among you " many wise according to 
the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble ; but the 
foolish things of the world hath God chosen to con- 
found the strong, and the mean things of the world, and 
the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, 
and things that are not, that He might destroy the 
things that are, that no flesh might glory in His 
sight." Hence the same Apostle speaks of " the 
foolishness of preaching." Similar to this is what 
our Lord had said in His prayer to the Father ; 
" I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
because thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and hast revealed them unto little ones." 
Now is it not plain that men of this day have just 
inherited the feelings and traditions of these falsely 
wise and fatally prudent persons in our Lord's day ? 
They have the same obstruction in their hearts 
to entering the Catholic Church, which Pharisees and 
Sophists had before them ; it goes against them to 
believe her doctrine, not so much for want of evidence 
that she is from God, as because, if so, they shall have 
to submit their minds to living men, who have not 
their own cultivation or depth of intellect, and because 
they must receive a number of doctrines, whether they 
will or no, which are strange to their imagination and 
difficult to their reason. The very characteristic of 
the Catholic teaching and of the Catholic teacher is 
to them a preliminary objection to their becoming 



Faith and Private Judgment. 205 

Catholics, so great, as to throw into the shade any 
argument however strong, which is producible in 
behalf of the mission of those teachers and the origin 
of that teaching. In short, they have not faith. 

They have not in them the principle of faith ; and 
I repeat, it is nothing to the purpose to urge that at 
least they firmly believe Scripture to be the word of 
God. In truth, it is much to be feared that their 
acceptance of Scripture itself is nothing better than a 
prejudice or inveterate feeling impressed on them when 
they were children. A proof of it is this ; that, while 
they profess to be so shocked at Catholic miracles, and 
are not slow to call them " lying wonders," they have 
no difficulty at all about Scripture narratives, which 
are quite as difficult to the reason as any miracles 
recorded in the history of the Saints. I have heard 
on the contrary of Catholics who have been startled 
at first reading in Scripture the narratives of the ark 
in the deluge, of the tower of Babel, of Balaam and 
Balac, of the Israelites' flight from Egypt and entrance 
into the promised land, and of Esau's and Saul's 
rejection ; which the bulk of Protestants receive with- 
out any effort of mind. How, then, do these Catholics 
accept them ? by faith ? They say, " God is true, and 
every man a liar." How come Protestants so easily to 
receive them ? by faith ? Nay, I conceive that in most 
cases there is no submission of the reason at all; simply 
they are so familiar with the passages in question, 
that the narrative presents no difficulties to their 
imagination ; they have nothing to overcome. If, 
however, they are, led to contemplate these passages 



2o6 Faith and Private Judgment. 

in themselves, and to try them in the balance of pro- 
bability, and to begin to question about them, as will 
happen when their intellect is cultivated, then there 
is nothing to bring them back to their former habitual 
■or mechanical belief ; they know nothing of submit- 
ting to authority, that is, they know nothing of faith ; 
for they have no authority to submit to. They either 
remain in a state of doubt without any great trouble 
of mind, or they go on to ripen into utter disbelief on 
the subjects in question, though they may say no- 
thing about it. Neither before they doubt, nor when 
they doubt, is there any token of the presence in them 
of a power subjecting reason to the word of God. No ; 
what looks like faith, is a mere hereditary persuasion, 
not a personal principle ; it is a habit which they 
have learned in the nursery, which has never changed 
into anything higher, and which is scattered and dis- 
appears, like a mist, before the light, such as it is, of 
reason. If, however, there are Protestants, who are 
not in one or other of these two states, either of 
credulity or of doubt, but who firmly believe in spite 
of all difficulties, they certainly have some claim to 
be considered under the influence of faith ; but there 
is nothing to show that such persons, where they are 
found, are not in the way to become Catholics, and 
perhaps they are already called so by their friends, 
showing in their own examples the logical, indisput- 
able connexion which exists between possessing faith 
and joining the Church. 

If, then, faith be now the same faculty of mind, the 
5ame sort of habit or act, which it was in the days of 



Faith and Private Judgment. 207 

the Apostles, I have made good what I set about show- 
iniT But it must be the same ; it cannot mean two 
things ; the word cannot have changed its meaning. 
Either say that faith is not necessary now at all, or 
take it to be what the Apostles meant by it, but do 
not say that you have it, and then show me something 
quite different, which you have put in the place of it. 
In the Apostles' days the peculiarity of faith was sub- 
mission to a living authority ; this is what made it so 
distinctive ; this is what made it an act of submission 
at all ; this is what destroyed private judgment in mat- 
ters of religion. If you will not look out for a living 
authority, and will bargain for private judgment, then 
say at once that you have not Apostolic faith. And iu 
fact you have it not ; the bulk of this nation has it 
not ; confess you have it not ; and then confess that 
this is the reason why you are not Catholics. You are 
not Catholics because you have not faith. Why do not 
blind men see the sun ? because they have no eyes ; 
in like manner it is vain to discourse upon the beauty, 
the sanctity, the sublimity of the Catholic doctrine 
and worship, where men have no faith to accept it 
as divine. They may confess its beauty, sublimity, 
and sanctity, without believing it; they may 
acknowledge that the Catholic religion is noble and 
majestic ; they may be struck with its wisdom, they 
may admire its adaptation to human nature, they may 
be penetrated by its tender and winning bearing, they 
may be awed by its consistency. But to commit them- 
selves to it, that is another matter ; to choose it for 
their portion, to say with the favoured Moabitess, 



2o8 Faith and Private Judgment. 

" Whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go ! and where 
thou shalt dwell, I will dwell ; thy people shall be my 
people, and thy God my God," this is the language of 
faith. A man may revere, a man may extol, who has 
no tendency whatever to obey, no notion whatever of 
professing. And this often happens in fact: men 
are respectful to the Catholic religion ; they acknow- 
ledge its services to mankind, they encourage it and 
its professors ; they like to know them, they are inte- 
rested in hearing of their movements, but they are not,, 
and never will be Catholics. They will die as they 
have lived, out of the Church, because they have not 
possessed themselves of that faculty by which the 
Church is to be approached. Catholics who have not 
studied tjhem or human nature, will wonder they re- 
main where they are ; nay, they themselves, alas for 
them ! will sometimes lament they cannot become 
Catholics. They will feel so intimately the blessed- 
ness of being a Catholic, that they will cry out, " 0, 
what would I give to be a Catholic ! 0, that I could 
believe what I admire ! but I do not, and I can no 
more believe merely because I wish to do so, than I 
can leap over a mountain. I should be much happier 
were I a Catholic ; but I am not ; it is no use deceiving 
myself; I am what I am ; I revere, I cannot accept." 
Oh, deplorable state ! deplorable because it is utterly 
and absolutely their own fault, and because such great 
stress is laid in Scripture, as they know, on the neces- 
sity of faith for salvation. Faith is there made the 
foundation and commencement of all acceptable obe- 
dience. It is described as the " argument " or " proof 



Faith and Private Judgment. 209 

of things not seen ; " by faith men have understood 
that God is, that He made the world, that He is a 
rewarder of those who seek Him, that the flood was 
coming, that their Saviour was to be born. " With- 
out faith it is impossible to please God ; " " by faith 
we stand ; " " by faith we, walk ; " " by faith we over- 
come the world." When our Lord gave to the Apos- 
tles their commission to preach all over the world, He 
continued, " He that belie veth and is baptized, shall 
be saved ; but he that believeth not, shall be con- 
demned." And He declared to Nicodemus, "He 
that believeth in the Son, is not judged ; but he that 
doth not believe is already judged, because he believeth 
not in the Name of the Only-begotten Son of God." 
He said to the Pharisees, " If you believe not that I 
am He, ye shall die in your sins." To the Jews, 
" Ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep." 
And you may recollect that before His miracles. He 
commonly demands faith of the supplicant; "All 
things are possible," He says, "to him that believeth ;" 
and we find in one place " He could not do any miracle," 
on account of the unbelief of the inhabitants. 

Has faith changed its meaning, or is it less necessary 
now ? Is it not still what it was in the Apostles' 
day, the very characteristic of Christianity, the special 
instrument of renovation, the first disposition for 
justification, one out of the three theological virtues ? 
God might have renewed us by other means, by sight, 
by reason, by love, but he has chosen to " purify our 
hearts by faith ; " it has been His will to select au 

instrument which the world despises, but which is of 

14 



2 lo Faith and Private Judgment. 

immense power. He preferred it, in His infinite 
wisdom, to every other ; and if men have it not, they 
have not the very element and rudiment, out of which 
are formed, on which are built, the Saints and Ser- 
vants of God. And they have it not, they are living, 
they are dying, without the hopes, without the aids, 
of the Gospel, because, in spite of so much that is 
good in them, in spite of their sense of duty, their 
tenderness of conscience on many points, their bene- 
volence, their uprightness, their generosity, they are 
under the dominion (I must say it) of a proud fiend ; 
they have this stout spirit within them, they determine 
to be their own masters in matters of thought, about 
which they know so little ; they consider their own 
reason better than any one's else ; they will not admit 
that any one comes from God who contradicts their 
own view of truth. What ! is none their equal in 
wisdom anywhere ? is there none other whose word is 
to be taken on religion ? is there none to wrest from 
them their ultimate appeal to themselves ? Have they 
in no possible way the occasion or opportunity of faith? 
Is it a virtue, whichjinconsequenceof their transcendent 
sagacity, their prerogative of omniscience, they must 
give up hope of exercising ? If the pretensions of the 
Catholic Church do not satisfy them, let them go 
somewhere else, if they can. If they are so fastidious 
that they cannot trust her as the oracle of God, let 
them find another more certainly from Him than the 
House of His own institution, which has ever been 
called by His Name, has ever maintained the same 
claims, has ever taught one substance of doctrine, 



Faith and Private Judgment. 2 1 1 

and has triumphed over those who preached any other. 
Since Apostolic faith was in the beginning reliance on 
man's word as being God's word, since what faith was 
then such it is now, since faith is necessary for salva- 
tion, let them attempt to exercise it towards another, if 
they will not accept the Bride of the Lamb. Let 
them, if they can, put faith in some of those religions 
which have lasted a whole two or three centuries in a 
comer of the earth. Let them stake their eternal 
prospects on kings and nobles and parliaments and 
soldiery, let them take some mere fiction of the law, 
or abortion of the schools, or idol of a populace, or 
upstart of a crisis, or oracle of lecture-rooms, as the 
prophet of God. Alas ! they are hardly bestead if 
they must possess a virtue, which they have no means 
of exercising, — if they must make an act of faith, 
they know not on whom, and know not why ! 

What thanks ought we to render to Almighty God, 
my dear brethren, that He has made us what we are ! 
It is a matter of grace. There are, to be sure, many 
cogent arguments to lead one to join the Catholic 
Church, but they do not force the will. We may 
know them, and not be moved to act upon them. We 
may be convinced without being persuaded. The two 
things are quite distinct from each other, seeing you 
ought to believe, and believing ; reason, if left to 
itself, will bring you to the conclusion that you have 
sufficient grounds for believing, but belief is the gift 
of grace. You are then what you are, not from any 
excellence or merit of your own, but by the grace of 
God who has chosen you to believe. You might have 



212 Faith and Pidvate Judgment. 

been as the barbarian of Africa, or the freethinker ot 
Europe, with grace sufficient to condemn you, because 
it had not furthered your salvation. You might have 
had strong inspirations of grace and have resisted 
them, and then additional grace might not have been 
given to overcome your resistance. God gives not the 
same measure of grace to all. Has He not visited you 
with over abundant grace ? and was it not necessary 
for your hard hearts to receive more than other people ? 
Praise and bless Him continually for the benefit ; do 
not forget, as time goes on, that it is of grace \ do not 
pride yourselves upon it ; pray ever not to lose it ; and 
do your best to make others partakers of it. 

And you, my brethren, also, if such be present, who 
are not as yet Catholics, but who by your coming 
hither seem to show your interest in our teaching, and 
your wish to know more about it, you too remember, 
that though you may not yet have faith in the Church, 
still God has brought you into the way of obtaining 
it. You are under the influence of His grace ; He has 
brought you a step on your journey ; He wishes to 
bring you farther, He wishes to bestow on you the 
fulness of His blessings, and to make you Catholics. 
You are still in your sins ; probably you are laden 
with the guilt of many years, the accumulated guilt of 
many a deep mortal offence, which no contrition has 
washed away, and to which no Sacrament has been 
applied. You at present are troubled with an uneasy 
conscience, a dissatisfied reason, an unclean heart, and 
a divided will; you need to be converted. Yet now the 
first suggestions of grace are working in your souls. 



Faith and Private Judgment. 213 

and are to issue in pardon for the past and sanctity for 
the future. God is moving you to acts of faith, hope, 
love, hatred of sin, repentance ; do not disappoint 
Him, do not thwart Him, concur with Him, obey 
Him. Yovi look up, and you see, as it were, a great 
mountain to be scaled ; you say, " How can I possibly 
find a path over these giant obstacles, which I find in 
the way of my becoming Catholic ? I do not compre- 
hend this doctrine, and I am pained at that ; a third 
seems impossible ; I never can be familiar with one 
practice, I am afraid of another ; it is one maze and 
discomfort to me, and I am led to sink down in de- 
spair." Say not so, my dear brethren, look up in hope, 
trust in Him who calls you forward. " Who art thou, 
great mountain, before Zorobabel ? but a plain." 
He will lead you forward step by step, as He has led 
forward many a one before you. He will make the 
crooked straight and the rough plain. He will turn 
the streams, and dry up the rivers, which lie in your 
path. " He shall strengthen your feet like harts' feet, 
and set you up on high places. He shall widen your 
steps under you, and your tread shall not be weak- 
ened." "There is no God like the God of the 
righteous ; He that mounts the heaven is thy Helper; 
by His mighty working the clouds disperse. His 
dwelling is above, and underneath are the everlasting 
arms ; He shall cast out the enemy from before thee, 
and shall say, Crumble away." " The young shall 
faint, and youths shall fall ; but they that hope 
in the Lord shall be new-fledged in strength, they 
shall take feathers like eagles, they shall run and not 
labour, they shall walk and not faint." 



DISCOURSE XL 

FAITH AND DOUBT. 

rriHOSE who are drawn by curiosity or a better motive 
-■- to inquire into the Catholic Eeligion, sometimes 
put to us a strange question, — whether, if they took 
up the profession of it, they would be at liberty, when 
they felt inclined, to reconsider the question of its 
divine authority; meaning, by "reconsideration" an 
inquiry springing from doubt of it, and possibly end- 
ing in a denial. The same question, in the form of 
an objection, is often asked by those who have no 
thoughts at all of becoming Catholics, and who en- 
large upon it, as something terrible, that whoever once 
enters the pale of the Church, on him the door of 
egress is shut for ever ; that, once a Catholic, he never 
never can doubt again; that, whatever his misgivings 
may be, he must stifle them, nay must start from them 
as the suggestions of the evil spirit ; in short, that he 
must give up altogether the search after truth, and do 
a violence to his mind, which is nothing short of im- 
moral. This is what is said, my brethren, by certain 
objectors, and their own view is, or ought to be, if 
they are consistent, this, — that it is a fault ever to 



Faith and Doubt. 2 1 5 

make up our mind once for all on any religious subject 
whatever; and that, however sacred a doctrine may be, 
and however evident to us, — let us say, for instance, 
the divinity of our Lord, or the existence of God, — we 
ought always to reserve to ourselves the liberty of 
doubting about it. I cannot help thinking that so 
extravagant a position, as this is, confutes itself; how- 
ever, I will consider the contrary (that is, the Catholic) 
view of the subject, on its own merits, though without 
admitting the language in which it was just now 
stated by its opponents. 

It is, then, perfectly true, that the Church does not 
allow her children to entertain any doubt of her teach- 
ing; and that, first of all, simply for this reason, 
because they are Catholics only while they have faith, 
and faith is incompatible with doubt. No one can be 
a Catholic without a simple faith, that what the Church 
declares in God's name, is God's word, and therefore 
true. A man must simply believe that the Church 
is the oracle of God ; he must be as certain of her 
mission, as he is of the mission of the Apostles. Now, 
would any one ever call him certain that the Apostles 
came from God, if, after professing his certainty, he 
added, that, perhaps he might have reason to doubt one 
day about their mission ? Such an anticipation would 
be a real, though latent, doubt, betraying that he was 
not certain of it at present, A person who says, " I 
believe just at this moment, but perhaps I am excited 
without knowing it, and I cannot answer for myself, 
that I shall believe to-morrow," does not believe now. 
A man who says, "Perhaps I am in a kind of delusion. 



2i6 Faith and Doubt. 

which will one day pass away from me, and leave me 
as I was before;" or, "I believe as far as I can 
tell, but there may be arguments in the background 
which will change my view," such a man has not faith 
at all. "When, then, Protestants quarrel with us for 
saying that those who join us must give up all ideas 
of ever doubting the Church in time to come, they do 
nothing else but quarrel with us for insisting on the 
necessity of faith in her. Let them speak plainly ; 
our offence is that of demanding faith in the Holy 
Catholic Church ; it is this, and nothing else. I must 
insist upon this : faith implies a confidence in a man's 
mind, that the thing believed is really true ; but, if it 
is once true, it never can be false. If it is true that God 
became man, what is the meaning of my anticipating 
a time when perhaps I shall not believe that God be- 
came man ? this is nothing short of anticipating a time 
when I shall disbelieve a truth. And if I bargain to 
be allowed in time to come not to believe, or to doubt, 
that God became man, I am but asking to be allowed 
to doubt or disbelieve what I hold to be an eternal truth. 
I do not see the privilege of such a permission at all, or 
the meaning of wishing to secure it : — if at present I 
have no doubt whatever about it, then I am but asking 
leave to fall into error ; if at present I have doubts 
about it, then I do not believe it at present, that is, I 
have not faith. But I cannot both really believe it now, 
and yet look forward to a time when perhaps I shall 
not believe it ; to make provision for future doubt, is 
to doubt at present. It proves I am not in a fit state 
to become a Catholic now. I may love by halves, I 



Faith and Doubt. 2 1 7 

may obey by halves ; I cannot believe by halves : either 
I have faith, or I have it not. 

And so aojain, when a man has become a Catholic, 
•were he to set about following a doubt which has 
occurred to him, he has already disbelieved, /have 
not to warn him against losing his faith, he is not 
merely in danger of losing it, he has lost it ; from the 
nature of the case he has already lost it ; he fell from 
grace at the moment when he deliberately entertained 
and pursued his doubt. JSTo one can determine to doubt 
what he is already sure of ; but if he is not sure that the 
Church is from God, he does not believe it. It is not 
I who forbid him to doubt ; he has taken the matter 
into his own hands when he determined on asking for 
leave ; he has begun, not ended, in unbelief ; his very 
wish, his purpose, is his sin. I do not make it so, it 
is such from the very state of the case. You some- 
times hear, for example, of Catholics falling away, 
who will tell you it arose from reading the Scriptures, 
which opened their eyes to the " unscripturalness," 
so they speak, of the Church of the Living God. No ; 
Scripture did not make them disbelieve (impossible !) ; 
they disbelieved when they opened the Bible; they 
opened it in an unbelieving spirit, and for an un- 
believing purpose ; they would not have opened it, 
had they not anticipated — I might say, hoped — that 
they should find things there inconsistent with Catho- 
lic teaching. They begin in self-will and disobedience, 
and they end in apostasy. This, then, is the direct 
and obvious reason why the Church cannot allow lier 
children the liberty of doubting the truth of her word. 



2 18 Faith and Doubt. 

He who really believes in it now, cannot imagine the 
future discovery of reasons to sluake his faith ; if he 
imagines it, he has not faith ; and that so many 
Protestants think it a sort of tyranny in the Church 
to forbid any children of hers to doubt about her 
teaching, only shows they do not know what faith is 
— which is the case ; it is a strange idea to them. Let 
a man cease to inquire, or cease to call himself her 
child. 

This is my first remark, and now I go on to a 
second. You may easily conceive, my brethren, that 
they who are entering the Church, or at least those 
who have entered it, have more than faith ; that they 
have some portion of divine love also. They have 
heard in the Church of the charity of Him who died 
for them, and who has given them His Sacraments 
as the means of conveying the merits of His death to 
their souls, and they have felt more or less in those 
poor souls of theirs the beginnings of a responsive 
charity drawing them to Him. Now, does it stand 
with a loving trust, better than with faith, for a man 
to anticipate the possibility of doubting or denying 
the great mercies in which he is rejoicing ? Take an 
instance ; what would you think of a friend whom 
you loved, who could bargain that, in spite of his 
present trust in you, he might be allowed some day 
to doubt you ? who, when a thought came into his 
mind, that you were playing a game with him, or that 
you were a kuave, or a profligate, did not drive it from 
him with indignation, or laugh it away for its absur- 
dity, but considered that he had an evident right to 



Faith and Doubt. 2 1 9 

indulge it, nay, should be wanting in duty to himself, 
unless he did? Would you think that your friend 
trifled with truth, that he was unjust to his reason, that 
he was wanting in manliness, that he was hurting his 
mind, if he shrank from the thought ? or would you not 
call him cruel and miserable if he did not ? For me, my 
brethren, if he took the latter course, may I never be 
intimate with so unpleasant a person ; suspicious, 
jealous minds, minds that keep at a distance from 
me, that insist on their rights, fall back on their own 
centre, are ever fancying offences, and are cold, cen- 
sorious, wayward, and uncertain, these are often ta 
be borne as a cross ; but give me for my friend one 
who will unite heart and hand with me, who will 
throw himself into my cause and interest, who will 
take my part when I am attacked, who will be sure 
beforehand that I am in the right, and, if he is criti- 
cal, as he may have cause to be towards a being of 
sin and imperfection, will be so from very love and 
loyalty, from an anxiety that I should always show to 
advantage, and a wish that others should love me as 
heartily as he does. I should not say a friend trusted 
me, who listened to every idle story against me ; and 
I should like his absence better than his company, if 
he gravely told me that it was a duty he owed to 
himself to encourage his misgivings of my honour. 
Well, pass on to a higher subject ; — could a man 
be said to trust in God, and to love God, who was 
famihar with doubts whether there was a God at all, 
or who bargained tliat, just as often as he pleased, he 
might be at liberty to doubt whether God was good, 



2 20 Faith and Doubt. 

or just or almighty ; and who maintained that, unless 
he did this, he was but a poor slave, that his mind 
was in bondage, and could render no free acceptable 
service to his Maker; that the very worship which 
God approved was one attended with a caveat, on the 
worshipper's part, that he did not promise to render it 
to-morrow, that he would not answer for himself that 
some argument might not come to light, which he 
had never heard before, which would make it a grave 
moral duty in him to suspend his judgment and his 
devotion? Why, I should say, my brethren, that 
that man was worshipping his own mind, his own 
dear self and not God; that his idea of God was a 
mere accidental form which his thoughts took at this 
time or that, — for a long period or a short one, as the 
case might be, — not an image of the great Eternal 
Object, but a passing sentiment or imagination 
which meant nothing at all. I should say, and most 
men would agree with me, did they choose to give 
attention to the matter, that the person in question 
was a very self- conceited, self- wise man, and had 
neither love, nor faith, nor fear, nor anything super- 
natural about him ; that his pride must be broken, 
and his heart new-made, before he was capable of any 
religious act at all. The argument is the same, in its 
degree, when applied to the Church ; she speaks to us 
as a messenger from God, — how can a man who 
feels this, who comes to her, who falls at her feet as 
such, make a reserve, that he may be allowed to doubt 
her at some future day ? Let the world cry out, if it 
will, that his reason is in fetters ; let it pronounce 



Faith and Doubt. 221 

that he is a bigot, unless he reserves his right of 
doubting ; but he knows full well himself that he 
would be an ingrate and a fool, if he did. Fetters, 
indeed ! yes, " the cords of Adam," the fetters of 
love, these are what bind him to the Holy Church ; he 
is, with the Apostle, the slave of Christ, the Church's 
Lord ; united, (never to part, as he trusts, while life 
lasts,) to her Sacraments, to her Sacrifices, to her 
Saints, to the Blessed Mary her advocate, to Jesus, to 
God. 

The truth is, that the world, knowing nothing of 
the blessings of the Catholic faith, and prophesying 
nothing but ill concerning it, fancies that a convert, 
after the first fervour is over, feels nothing but disap- 
pointment, weariness, and offence in his new religion, 
and is secretly desirous of retracing his steps. This is 
at the root of the alarm and irritation which it mani- 
fests at hearing that doubts are incompatible with a 
Catholic's profession, because it is sure that doubts 
will come upon him, and then how pitiable will be his 
state ! That there can be peace, and joy, and know- 
ledge, and freedom, and spiritual strength in the 
Church, is a thought far beyond world's imagination; for 
it regards her simply as a frightful conspiracy against 
the happiness of man, seducing her victims by spe- 
cious professions, and, when they are once hers, caring 
nothing for the misery which breaks upon them, so 
that by any means she may detain them in bondage. 
Accordingly, it conceives we are in perpetual warfare 
with ourown reason, fierce objections ever rising within 
us, and wef orcibly repressing them. It believes that,. 



2 2 2 Faith and Doubt. 

after the likeness of a vessel which has met with some 
accident at sea, we are ever baling out the water which 
rushes in upon us, and have hard work to keep afloat ; 
Ave just manage to linger on, either by an unnatural 
strain on our minds, or by turning them away from 
the subject of religion. The world disbelieves our 
<ioctrines itself, and cannot understand our own be- 
lieving them. It considers them so strange, that it is 
quite sure, though we will not confess it, that we are 
haunted day and night with doubts, and tormented 
with the apprehension of yielding to them. I really 
do think it is the world's judgment, that one principal 
part of a confessor's work is the putting down such 
misgivings in his penitents. It fancies that the rea- 
son is ever rebelling, like the flesh ; that doubt, like 
concupiscence, is elicited by every sight and sound, 
and that temptation insinuates itself in every page of 
letter-press, and through the very voice of a Protes- 
tant polemic. When it sees a Catholic Priest, it looks 
liard at him, to make out how much there is of folly, 
in his composition, and how much of hypocrisy. 

But, my dear brethren, if these are your thoughts, 
jou are simply in error. Trust me, rather than the 
world, when I tell you, that it is no difficult thing for 
a Catholic to believe ; and that unless he grievously 
mismanages himself, the difficult thing is for him to 
doubt. He has received a gift which makes faith easy : 
it is not without an effort, a miserable effort, that any 
one who has received that gift, unlearns to believe. 
He does violence to his mind, not 4n exercising, but 
in withholding his faith. When objections occur to 



Fait Ji and Doubt. 223 

him, which they may easily do if he lives in the world, 
they are as odious and unwelcome to him as impure 
thoughts are to the virtuous. He does certainly shrink 
from them, he flings them away from him, but why ? 
not in the first instance, because they are dangerous, 
but because they are cruel and base. His loving Lord 
has done everything for him, and has He deserved 
such a return ? Popule mens, quid feci tihi ? "0 My 
people, what have I done to thee, or in what have I 
afflicted thee ? answer thou Me. I brought thee out 
of the land of Egypt, and delivered thee out of the 
house of slaves; and I sent before thy face Moses, and 
Aaron, and Mary ; I fenced thee in, and planted thee 
with the choicest vines; and what is there that I ought 
to do more to My vineyard that I have not done to it?" 
He has poured on us His grace. He has been with us 
in our perplexities. He has led us on from one truth 
to another. He has forgiven us our sins. He has satisfied 
our reason. He has made faith easy. He has given us 
His Saints, He shows before us day by day His own 
Passion ; why should I leave Him ? What has He 
ever done to me but good ? Why must I re-examine 
what I have examined once for all ? Why must I listen 
to every idle word which flits past me against Him, on 
pain of being called a bigot and a slave, when, if I did, 
I should be behaving to the Most High, as you your- 
selves, who so call me, would not behave towards a 
human friend or benefactor ? If I am convinced in 
my reason, and persuaded in my heart, why may I 
not be allowed to remain unmolested in my worship? 
I have said enough on the subject ; still there is a 



2 24 Faith and Doubt. 

third poiut of view in which it may be useful to con- 
sider it. Personal prudence is not the first or second 
ground for refusing to hear objections to the Church, 
but a motive it is, and that from the peculiar nature 
of divine faith, which cannot be treated as an ordinary 
conviction or belief. Faith is the gift of God, and 
not a mere act of our own, which we are free to exert 
when we will. It is quite distinct from an exercise 
of reason, though it follows upon it. I may feel the 
force of the argument for the divine origin of the 
Church ; I may see that I ought to believe ; and yet 
I may be unable to believe. This is no imaginary 
case ; there is many a man who has ground enough 
to believe, who wishes to believe, but who cannot 
believe. It is always indeed his own fault, for God 
gives grace to all who ask for it, and use it, but still 
such is the fact, that conviction is not faith. Take 
the parallel case of obedience ; many a man knows 
he ought to obey God, and does not and cannot, — 
through his own fault indeed, but still he cannot; 
for through grace alone can he obey. Now, faith is 
not a mere conviction in reason, it is a firm assent, it 
is a clear certainty greater than any other certainty ; 
and this is wrought in the mind by the grace of God, 
and by it alone. As then men may be convinced, 
and not act according to their conviction, so may they 
be convinced, and not believe according to their convic- 
tion. They may confess that the argument is against 
them, that they have nothing to say for themselves, 
and that to believe is to be happy ; and yet, after all, 
they avow they cannot believe, they do not know why. 



Faith and Doubt. 225 

but they cannot ; they acquiesce in unbelief, and they 
turn away from God and His Church. Their reason 
is convinced, and their doubts are moral ones, arising 
in their root from a fault of the will. In a word, the 
arguments for religion do not compel any one to 
believe, just as arguments for good conduct do not 
compel anyone to obey. Obedience is the consequence 
of willing to obey, and faith is the consequence of 
willing to believe ; we may see what is right, whether 
in matters of faith or obedience, of ourselves, but we 
cannot will what is right without the. grace of God. 
Here is the difference between other exercises of 
reason, and arguments for the truth of religion. It 
requires no act of faith to assent to the truth that two 
and two make four ; we cannot help assenting to it ; 
and hence there is no merit in assenting to it ; but 
there is merit in believing that the Church is from 
God ; for though there are abundant reasons to prove 
it to us, yet we can, without an absurdity, quarrel 
with the conclusion ; we may complain that it is not 
clearer, we may suspend our assent, we may doubt 
about it, if we will, and grace alone can turn a bad 
will into a good one. 

And now you see why a Catholic dare not in pru- 
dence attend to such objections as are brought against 
his faith ; he has no fear of their proving that the 
Church does not come from God, but he is afraid, if 
he listened to them without reason, lest God should 
punish him by the loss of his supernatural faith. This 
is one cause of that miserable state of mind, to which 
I have already alluded, in which men would fain be 

15 



2 26 Faith and Doubt. 

Catholics, and are not. They have trifled with con- 
viction, they have listened to arguments against what 
they knew to be true, and a deadness of mind has 
fallen on them ; faith has failed them, and, as time 
goes on, they betray in their words and their actions, 
the Divine judgment, with which they are visited. 
They become careless and unconcerned, or restless and 
unhappy, or impatient of contradiction ; ever asking 
advice and quarrelling with it when given ; not at- 
tempting to answer the arguments urged against them, 
but simply not believing. This is the whole of their 
case, they do not believe. And then it is quite an 
accident What becomes of them ; perhaps they con- 
tinue on in this perplexed and comfortless state, 
lingering about the Church, yet not of her ; not know- 
ing what they believe and what they do not, like 
blind men, or men deranged, who are deprived of the 
eye, whether of body or mind, and cannot guide them- 
selves in consequence ; ever exciting hopes of a return, 
and ever disappointing them ; — or, if they are men of 
more vigorous minds, they launch forward in a course 
of infidelity, not really believing less, as they proceed, 
for from the first they believed nothing, but taking 
up, as time goes on, more and more consistent forms 
of error, till sometimes, if a free field is given them, 
they even develop into atheism. Such is the end of 
those who, under the pretence of inquiring after truth, 
trifle with conviction. 

Here then are some of the reasons why the Catholic 
Church cannot consistently allow her children to doubt 
the divinity and the truth of her words. Mere investiga- 



Faith and Dotibt. 227 

tion indeed into the grounds of our faith is not to doubt ; 
nor is it doubting to consider the arguments urged 
against it, when there is good reason for doing so ; but 
I am speaking of a real doubt, or a wanton entertain- 
ment of objections. Such a procedure the Church 
denounces, and not only for the reasons which I have 
assigned, but because it would be a plain abandonment 
of her office and character to act otherwise. How can 
she, who has the prerogative of infallibility, allow her 
children to doubt of her gift ? It would be a simple 
inconsistency in her, who is the sure oracle of truth 
and messenger of heaven, to look with indifference on 
rebels to her authority. She simply does what the 
Apostles did before her, whom she has succeeded. 
" He that despiseth," says St. Paul, " despiseth not 
man, but God, who hath also given in us His Holy 
Spirit." And St. John, "We are of God; he that 
knoweth God, heareth us ; he that is not of God, 
heareth us not; by this we know the spirit of truth and 
the spirit of error." Take, again, an instance from 
the Old Testament : — When Elias was taken up into 
heaven, Eliseus was the only witness of the miracle ; 
on his coming back then to the sons of the Prophets, 
they doubted what had become of his master, and 
wished to search for him ; and, though they acknow- 
ledged Eliseus as his successor, they in this instance 
refused to take his word on the subject. Eliseus had 
struck the waters of Jordan, they had divided, and he 
had passed over ; here, surely, was ground enough for 
faith, and accordingly " the sons of the Prophets at 
Jericho, who were over against him, seeing it, said, 



2 28 Faith and Doubt. 

The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus; and they 
came to meet him, and worshipped him, falling to the 
ground." What could they require more ? they con- 
fessed that Eliseus had the spirit of his great master, 
and, in confessing it, they implied that that master 
was taken away ; yet, they proceed, from infirmity of 
mind, to make a request indicative of doubt ; " Behold, 
there are with thy servants fifty strong men, that can 
go and search for thy master, lest perhaps the Spirit 
of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon 
some mountain or into some valley." Now here was 
a request to follow up a doubt into an inquiry ; did 
Eliseus allow it ? he knew perfectly well that the in- 
quiry would but end, as it really did end, in confirmation 
of the truth, but it was indulging a wrong spirit to en- 
gage in it, and he would not allow it. These religious 
men were, as he would feel, strangely inconsistent : 
they were doubting his word whom they had just now 
worshipped as a Prophet, and, not only so, but they 
were doubting his supreme authority, for they implied 
that Elias was still among them. Accordingly he 
forbade their request ; " He said. Send not." This is 
what the world would call stifling an inquiry ; it was, 
forsooth, tyrannical and oppressive to oblige them to 
take on his word what they might ascertain for them- 
selves : yet he could not do otherwise without being 
unfaithful to his divine mission, and sanctioning them 
in a fault. It is true when " they pressed him, he 
consented, and said, Send;" but we must not suppose 
this to be more than a condescension to their weakness, 
or aconcession in displeasure, like thatwhich Almighty 



Faith and Doubt. 229 

God gave to Balaam, who pressed his request in a 
similar way. When Balaam asked to go with the 
ancients of Moab, God said, " Thou shalt not go with 
them ; " when Balaam asked Him " once more," " God 
said to him. Arise and go with them;" then it is 
added, " Balaam went with them, and God was angry." 
Here in like manner, the prophet said, Send ; " and 
they sent fifty men, and they sought three days, but 
found him not," yet though the inquiry did but prove 
that Elias was removed, Eliseus showed no satisfaction 
at it, even when it had confirmed his authority : but 
" he said to them. Said I not to you, Send not ? " It 
is thus that the Church ever forbids inquiry in those 
who already acknowledge her authority; but if they 
will inquire, she cannot hinder it ; but they are not 
justified in doing so. 

And now I think you see, ray brethren, why inquiry 
precedes faith, and does not follow it. You inquired 
before you joined the Church; you were satisfied, and 
God rewarded you with the grace of faith ; were you 
now determined to inquire further, you would lead us 
to think you had lost it again, for inquiry and faith 
are in their very nature incompatible. I will add, 
what is very evident, that no other religious body has 
a right to demand such an exercise of faith in it, 
and a right to forbid you further inquiry, but the 
Catholic Church; and for this simple reason, that no 
other body even claims to be infallible, let alone the 
proof of such a claim. Here is the defect at first 
starting, which disqualifies them, one and all, from 
ever competing with the Church of God. The sects 



230 Faith and Doubt. 

about us, so far from demanding your faith, actually 
call on you to inquire and to doubt freely about their 
own merits ; they protest that they are but voluntary 
associations, and would be sorry to be taken for any- 
thing else ; they beg and pray you not to mistake 
their preachers for anything more than mere sinful 
men, and they invite you to take the Bible with you 
to their sermons, and to judge for yourselves whether 
their doctrine is in accordance with it. Then, as to 
the Established Eeligion, grant that there are those 
in it who forbid inquiry into its claims ; yet still, dare 
they maintain that it is infallible ? If they do not, 
(and no one does), how can they forbid inquiry 
about it, or claim for it the absolute faith of any of 
its members ? Faith under these circumstances is 
not really faith, but obstinacy. Nor do they com- 
monly venture to demand it ; they will say, negatively, 
"Do not inquire;" but they cannot say positively, 
"Have faith;" for in whom are their members to 
have faith ? of whom can they say, whether individual 
or collection of men, " He or they are gifted with in- 
fallibility, and cannot mislead us " ? Therefore, when 
pressed to explain themselves, they ground their duty 
of continuance in their communion, not on faith in it, 
but on attachment to it, which is a very different 
thing; utterly different, for there are very many 
reasons why they should feel a very great liking for 
the religion in which they have been brought up. Its 
portions of Catholic teaching, its " decency and order," 
the pure aud beautiful English of its prayers, its 
literature, the piety found among its members, the 



Faith and Doubt. 231 

influence of superiors and friends, its historical 
associations, its domestic character, the charm of a 
country life, the remembrance of past years, — there is 
all this and much more to attach the mind to the 
national worship. But attachment is not trust, nor 
is to obey the same as to look up to, and to rely upon ; 
nor do I think that any thoughtful or educated man 
can simply believe or confide in the word, of the Esta- 
blished Church. I never met any such person who 
did, or said he did, and I do not think that such a 
person is possible. Its defenders would believe if 
they could ; but their highest confidence is qualified 
by a misgiving. They obey, they are silent before the 
voice of their superiors, but they do not profess to 
believe. Nothing is clearer than this, that if faith 
in God's word is required of us for salvation, the 
Catholic Church is the only medium by which we can 
exercise it. 

And now, my brethren, who are not Catholics, 
perhaps you will tell me, that, if all inquiry is to 
cease when you become Catholics, you ought to be 
very sure that the Church is from God before you join 
it. You speak truly ; no one should enter the Church 
without a firm purpose of taking her word in all 
matters of doctrine and morals, and that, on the 
ground of her coming directly from the God of Truth. 
You must look the matter in the face, and count the 
cost. If you do not come in this spirit, you may as 
well not come at all ; high and low, learned and igno- 
rant, must come to learn. If you are right as far as 
this, you cannot go very wrong ; you have the foun- 



232 Faith and Doubt. 

dation ; but, if you come in any other temper, you 
had better wait till you have got rid of it. You must 
come, I say, to the Church to learn ; you must come, 
not to bring your own notions to her, but with the 
intention of ever being a learner; you must come 
with the intention of taking her for your portion and 
of never leaving her. Do not come as an experiment; 
do not come as you would take sittings in a chapel, 
or tickets for a lecture-room ; come to her as to your 
home, to the school of your souls, to the Mother of 
Saints, and to the vestibule of heaven. On the 
other hand do not distress yourselves with thoughts 
whether, when you have joined her, your faith will 
last ; this is a suggestion of your enemy to hold you 
back. He who has begun a good work in you, will 
perfect it ; He who has chosen you, will be faithful to 
you ; put your cause into His hand, wait upon Him, 
and you will surely persevere. What good work will 
you ever begin, if you bargain first to see the end of 
it ? If you wish to do all at once, you will do nothing; 
he has done half the work, who has begun it well ; 
you will not gain your Lord's praise at the final 
reckoning by hiding His talent. No ; when He 
brings you from error to truth. He will have done the 
more difficult work (if aught is difficult to Him), and 
surely He will preserve you from returning from truth 
to error. Take the experience of those who have gone 
before you in the same course ; they had many fears 
that their faith would fail them, before taking the 
great step, but those fears vanished on their taking 
it ; they had fears, before they received the grace of 



Faith and Doubt. 233 

faith, lest, after receiving it, they should lose it again, 
but no fears (except on the ground of their general 
frailness) after it was actually given them. 

Be convinced in your reason that the Catholic 
Church is a teacher sent to you from God, and it is 
enough. I do not wish you to join her, till you are. 
If you are half convinced, pray for a full conviction, 
and wait till you have it. It is better indeed to come 
quickly, but better slowly than carelessly ; and some- 
times, as the proverb goes, the more haste, the worse 
speed. Only make yourselves sure that the delay is 
not from any fault of yours, which you can remedy. 
Grod deals with us very differently ; conviction comes 
slowly to some men, quickly to others ; in some it 
is the result of much thought and many reasonings, 
in others of a sudden illumination. One man is con- 
vinced at once, as in the instance described by St. 
Paul : " If all prophesy," he says, speaking of expo- 
sition of doctrine, " and there come in one that be- 
lieveth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, 
he is judged of all. The secrets of his heart are made 
manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will 
worship God, and say that God is among you of a 
truth." The case is the same now ; some men are 
converted merely by entering a Catholic Church ; 
others are converted by reading one book ; others by 
one doctrine. They feel the weight of their sins, and 
they see that that religion must come from God which 
alone has the means of forgiving them. Or they are 
touched and overcome by the evident sanctity, beauty, 
and (as I may say) fragrance of the Catholic Religion. 



2 34 Faith and Doubt. 

Or they long for a guide amid the strife of tongues ; 
and the very doctrine of the Church about faith, which 
is so hard to many, is conviction to them. Others, 
again, hear many objections to the Church, and follow 
out the whole subject far and wide ; conviction can 
scarcely come to them except as at the end of a long 
inquiry. As in a court of justice, one man's innocence 
may be proved at once, another's is the result of a 
careful investigation ; one has nothing in his conduct 
or character to explain, against another there are many 
unfavourable presumptions at first sight ; so Holy 
Church presents herself very differently to different 
minds who are contemplating her from without. God 
deals with them differently; but, if they are faithful to 
their light, at last, in their own time, though it may be 
a different time to each, He brings them to that one 
and the same state of mind, very definite and not to 
be mistaken, which we call conviction. They will have 
no doubt, whatever difficulties may still attach to the 
subject, that the Church is from God ; they may not 
be able to answer this objection or that, but they will 
be certain in spite of it. 

This is a point which should ever be kept in view : 
conviction is a state of mind, and it is something be- 
yond and distinct from the mere arguments of which 
it is the result ; it does not vary with their strength 
or their number. Arguments lead to a conclusion, 
and when the arguments are stronger, the conclusion 
is clearer ; but conviction may be felt as strongly in 
consequence of a clear conclusion, as of one which is- 
clearer. A man may be so sure upon six reasons, that 



Faith and Doubt. 235 

he does not need a seventh, nor would feel surer if he 
had it. And so as regards the Catholic Church : men 
are convinced in very various ways, — what convinces 
one, does not convince another ; but this is an acci- 
dent ; the time comes anyhow, sooner or later, when 
a man ought to be convinced, and is convinced, and 
then he is bound not to wait for any more arguments, 
though more arguments be producible. He will find 
himself in a condition when he may even refuse to 
hear more arguments in behalf of the Church ; he 
does not wish to read or think more on the subject ; 
his mind is quite made up. In such a case it is his 
duty to join the Church at once ; he must not delay ; 
let him be cautious in council, but prompt in execu- 
tion. This it is that makes Catholics so anxious about 
him : it is not that they wish him to be precipitate ; 
but knowing the temptations which the evil one ever 
throws in our way, they are lovingly anxious for his 
soul, lest he has come to the point of conviction, and 
is passing it, and is losing his chance of conversion. 
If so, it may never return ; God has not chosen every 
one to salvation : it is a rare gift to be a Catholic ; it 
may be offered to us once in our lives and never 
again ; and, if we have not seized on the " accepted 
time," nor know " in our day the things which are 
for our peace," oh, the misery for us ! What shall 
we be able to say when death comes, and we are not 
converted, and it is directly and immediately our own 
doing that we are not ? 

" Wisdom preacheth abroad, she uttereth her voice 
in the streets: How long, ye little ones, love ye 



236 Faith and Doubt. 

childishness, and fools covet what is hurtful to them, 
and the unwise hate knowledge ? Turn ye at My 
reproof ; behold, I will bring forth to you My Spirit, 
and I will show My words unto you. Because I have 
called, and ye refused, I stretched out My hand, and 
there was none who regarded, and ye despised all ]\Iy 
counsel and neglected My chidings ; I also will laugh 
in your destruction, and will mock when that shall 
come to you which you feared ; when a sudden storm 
shall rush on you, and destruction shall thicken as a 
tempest, when tribulation and straitness shall come 
upon you. Then shall they call on Me, and I will 
not hear ; they shall rise betimes, but they shall not 
find, Me; for that they hated discipline, and took not 
on them the fear of the Lord, nor acquiesced in My 
counsel, but made light of My reproof, therefore shall 
they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with 
their own devices." 

Oh, the misery for us, as many of us as shall be in 
that number! Oh, the awful thought for all eternity! 
Oh, the remorseful sting, " I was called, I might have 
answered, and I did not ! " And oh, the blessedness, 
if we can look back on the time of trial, when friends 
implored and enemies scoffed, and say, — The misery 
for me, which would have been, had I not followed on, 
had I hung back, when Christ called ! Oh, the utter 
confusion of mind, the wreck of faith and opinion, 
the blackness and void, the dreary scepticism, the 
hopelessness, which would have been my lot, the 
pledge of the outer darkness to come, had I been 
afraid to follow Him ! I have lost friends, I have lost 



Faith and Doubt. 237 

the world, but I have gained Him, who gives in Him- 
self houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and 
children and lands a hundred- fold ; I have lost the 
perishable, and gained the Infinite; I have lost time, 
and I have gained eternity ; " Lord, my God, I am 
Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid ; Thou 
hast broken my bonds. I will sacrifice to Thee the 
sacrifice of praise, and I will call on the Name of the 
Lord." 



DISCOURSE XII. 

PROSPECTS OF THE CA THOLIC MISSIONER. 

A STEANGE time this may seem to some of you, 
•^^ my brethren, and a strange place, to commence 
an enterprise such as that, which relying on God's 
mercy, we are undertaking this day.* In this huge 
city, amid a population of human beings, so vast that 
each is solitary, so various that each is independent, 
which, like the ocean, yields before and closes over 
every attempt made to influence and impress it, — in 
this mere aggregate of individuals, which admits of 
neither change nor reform, because it has no internal 
order, or disposition of parts, or mutual dependence, 
because it has nothing to change from and nothing to 
change to, where no one know* his next-door neigh- 
bour, where in every place are found a thousand 
worlds, each pursuing its own functions unimpeded by 
the rest,— how can we, how can a handful of men, do 
any service worthy of the Lord who has called us, and 
the objects to which our lives are dedicated ? "Cry 
aloud, spare not ! " says the Prophet ; well may he 
say it ! no room for sparing ; what cry is loud enough, 
except the last trumpet of God, to pierce the omni- 

* This discourse was delivered iu substance, at the first opening 
of the London Oratory, in 1849. 



Prospects of the Catholic Missioner. 239 

present din of turmoil and of effort, which rises, like 
an exhalation from the very earth, along the public 
thoroughfares, and to reach the dense multitudes on 
each side of them in the maze of lanes and alleys Jinown 
only to those who live in them ? It is but a fool's work 
to essay the impossible; keep to your own place, and 
you are respectable; tend your sheep in the wilderness, 
and you are intelligible ; build upon the old founda- 
tions, and you are safe ; but begin nothing new, make 
no experiments, quicken not the action, nor strain the 
powers, nor complicate the responsibilities of your 
Mother, lest in her old age you bring her to shame, 
and the idlers laugh at her who once bare many 
children, but now is waxed feeble. 

And here is another thing, the time ; the time of 
your coming hither ! Now, when you rest on no im- 
moveable centre, as of old, when you are not what you 
were lately, when your life is in jeopardy, your future 
in suspense, your Master in exile ; look at home, you 
have enough to do at home. Look to the rock whence 
ye were cut, and to the quarry whence ye were chopped ! 
Where is Peter now ? Magni nominis umbra, as the 
heathen author says : an antiquated cause, noble in its 
time, but of a past day ; nay, true and divine in its 
time, as far as anything can be such, but false now, 
and of the earth now, because it is feeble now, bent 
with the weight of eighteen hundred years, tottering 
to its fall ; for with Englishmen, you should know, 
success is the measure of principle, and power is the 
exponent of right. Do you not understand our rule of 
action ? we take up men and lay them down, we praise 



240 Prospects of 

or we blame, we feel respect or contempt, according as 
they succeed or are defeated. You are wrong, because 
you are in misfortune ; power is truth. Wealth is 
power, intellect is power, good name is power, know- 
ledge is power ; we venerate wealth, intellect, name, 
knowledge. Intellect we know, and wealth we know, 
but who are ye ? what have we to do with the ghosts 
of an old world and the types of a former organization ? 
It is true, my brethren, this is a strange time, a 
strange place for beginning our work. A strange 
place for Saints and Angels to pitch their tabernacles 
in, this metropolis ; strange, — I will not say for thee, 
my Mother Mary, to be found in ; for no part of the 
Catholic inheritance is foreign to thee, and thou art 
everywhere, where the Church is found, Fmia manes 
et Stella maris, the constant object of her devotion, 
and the universal advocate of her children, — not 
strange to thee, but strange enough to him, my own 
Saint and Master, Philip Neri. Yes, dear Father, it 
is strange for thee, to pass from the bright calm cities 
of the South to this scene of godless toil and self- 
trusting adventure ; strange for thee to be seen hurry- 
ing to and fro across our crowded streets, in thy 
grave black cassock, and thy white collar, instead of 
moving at thy own pace amid the open ways or vacant 
spaces of the great City, in which, according to God's 
guidance of thee in thy youth, thou didst for life and 
death fix thy habitation. Yes, it is all very strange 
to the world ; but no new thing to her, the Bride of 
the Lamb, whose very being and primary gifts are 
stranger in the eyes of unbelief, than any details, as to 



t]ie Catholic Missioner. 241 

place of abode and method of proceeding, in which 
they are manifested. It is no new thing in her, who 
came in the beginning as a wanderer upon earth, 
whose condition is a perpetual warfare, and whose 
empire is an incessant conquest. 

In such a time as this did the prince of the 
Apostles, the first Pope, advance towards the heathen 
city, where, under a divine guidance, he was to 
fix his seat. He toiled along the stately road which 
led him straight onwards to the capital of the world. 
He met throngs of the idle and the busy, of strangers 
and natives, who peopled the interminable suburb. 
He passed under the high gate, and wandered on 
amid marble palaces and columned temples ; he 
met processions of heathen priests and ministers in 
honour of their idols ; he met the wealthy lady, borne 
on her litter by her slaves ; he met the stern legion- 
aries who had been the " massive iron hammers " of 
the whole earth ; he met the anxious politician with 
his ready man of business at his side to prompt him 
on his canvass for popularity ; he met the orator re- 
turning home from a successful pleading, with his 
young admirers and his grateful or hopeful clients. 
He saw about him nothing but tokens of a vigorous 
power, grown up into a definite establishment, formed 
and matured in its rehgion, its laws, its civil tradi- 
tions, its imperial extension, through the history of 
many centuries ; and what was he but a poor, feeble, 
aged stranger, in nothing different from the multi- 
tude of men, — an Egyptian or a Chaldean, or perhaps 
a Jew, some Eastern or other, — as passers-by would 

16 



242 Prospects of 

guess according to their knowledge of human kind, 
carelessly looking at him (as we might turn our 
eyes upon Hindoo or gipsy, as they met us), without 
the shadow of a thought that such a one was destined 
then to commence an age of religious sovereignty, in 
which they might spend their own heathen times 
• twice over, and not see its end ! 

In such a time as this, did the great Doctor, St. 
Gregory Nazianzen, he too an old man, a timid man, 
a retiring man, fond of solitude and books, and 
unpractised in the struggles of the world, suddenly 
appear in the Arian city of Constantinople ; and, in 
despite of a fanatical populace, and an heretical 
clergy, preach the truth, and prevail, — to his own 
wonder, and to the glory of that grace which is strong 
in weakness, and is ever nearest to its triumph when 
it is most despised. 

In such a time did another St. Gregory, the first 
Pope of the name, when all things were now failing, 
when barbarians had occupied the earth, and fresh and 
more savage multitudes were pouring down, when 
pestilence, famine, and heresy ravaged far and near, 
— oppressed, as he was, with continual sickness, his 
bed his Pontifical Throne, — in such a time did he 
rule, direct, and consolidate the Church, in what he 
augured were the last moments of the world ; subdu- 
ing Arians in Spain, Donatists in Africa, a third 
heresy in Egypt, a fourth in Gaul, humbling the 
pride of the East, reconciling the Goths to the 
Church, bringing our own pagan ancestors within her 
pale, and completing her order and beautifying her 



the Catholic Missioner. 2^^ 

ritual, while he strengthened the foundations of her 
power. 

And in such a time did the six Jesuit Fathers, 
Ignatius and his companions, while the world was 
exulting in the Church's fall, and men " made merry, 
and sent their gifts one to another," because the 
prophets were dead who " tormented them that 
dwelt upon earth," make their vow in the small 
Church of Montmartre ; and, attracting others to 
them by the sympathetic force of zeal, and the 
eloquence of sanctity, went forward calmly and 
silently into India in the East, and into America 
in the West, and, while they added whole nations 
to the Church abroad, restored and reanimated the 
Catholic populations at home. 

It is no new thing then with the Church, in a time 
of confusion or of anxiety, when offences abound, and 
the enemy is at her gates, that her children, far from 
being dismayed, or rather glorying in the danger, as 
vigorous men exult in trials of their strength, — it is no 
new thing, I say, that they should go forth to do her 
work, as though she were in the most palmy days of 
her prosperity. Old Rome, in her greatest distress, 
sent her legions to foreign destinations by one gate, 
while the Carthaginian conqueror was at the other. 
In truth, as has been said of our own countrymen, 
we. Catholics, do not know when we are beaten ; we 
advance, when by all the rules of war we ought to fall 
back ; we dream but of triumphs, and mistake (as the 
world judges) defeat for victory. For we have upon 
us the omens of success in the recollections of the 



244 Prospects of 

past ; we read upon our banners the names of many 
an old field of battle and of glory ; we are strong in 
the strength of our fathers, and we mean to do, in our 
humble measure, what Saints have done before us. It 
is nothing great or wonderful in us to be thus minded ; 
only Saints indeed do exploits, and carry contests 
through, but ordinary men, the serving men and 
privates of the Church, are equal to attempting them. 
It needs no heroism in us, my brethren, to face 
such a time as this, and to make light of it ; for we are 
Catholics. We have the experience of eighteen hundred 
years. The great philosopher of antiquity tells us, 
that mere experience is courage, not indeed of the 
highest kind, but sufficient to succeed upon. It is 
not one or two or a dozen defeats, if we had them, 
which will reverse the majesty of the Catholic Name. 
We are willing to take this generation on its own 
standard of truth, and to make our intenseness of pur- 
pose the very voucher for our divinity. We are con- 
fident, zealous, and unyielding, because we are the 
heirs of St. Peter, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory 
Pope, and all other holy and faithful men, who, in 
their day, by word, deed, or prayer have furthered the 
Catholic cause. We share in their merits and inter- 
cessions, and we speak with their voice. Hence we 
do that without heroism, which others, who are not 
Catholics, do only with it. It would be heroism in 
others, certainly, to set about our work. Did Jews 
aim at bringing over this vast population to the rites 
of the Law, or did Unitarians address themselves to 
the conversion of the Holy Roman Church, or did the 



the CatJiolic Missioner. 245 

Society of Friends attempt the great French nation, 
this might rightly be called heroism ; not a true re- 
ligious heroism, but it would be a something extraor- 
dinary and startling. It would be a peculiar, special, 
original, audacious idea ; it would be making a great 
venture on a great uncertainty. But there is nothing 
of special courage, nothing of personal magnanimity, 
in a Catholic's making light of the world, and begin- 
ning to preach to it, though it turn its face from him. 
He knows the nature and habits of the world ; and it 
is his immemorial way of dealing with it ; he does 
but act according to his vocation ; he would not be a 
Catholic, did he act otherwise. He knows whose 
vessel he has entered ; it is the bark of Peter. When 
the greatest of the Eomans was in an open boat on 
the Adriatic, and the sea rose, he said to the terrified 
boatman, Ccesarem vehis et fortunam Ccesaris — 
" Caesar is your freight and Caesar's fortune." What 
he said in presumption, we, my dear brethren, can 
repeat in faith, of that boat, in which Christ once sat 
and preached. We have not chosen it to have fear 
about it ; we have not entered it to escape out of it ; 
no, but to go forth in it upon the flood of sin and un- 
belief, which would sink any other craft. We began 
our work at the first with Peter for our guide, on the 
very Feast of his Chair, and at the very Shrine of his 
relics ; so, when any of you marvel that we should 
choose this place and this time for our missionary 
labours, let him know that we are of those who 
measure the present by the past, and poise the world 
upon a distant centre. We act according to our 



246 Prospects of 

name ; Catholics are at home in every time and place, 
in every state of society, in every class of the com- 
munity, in every stage of cultivation. No state of 
things comes amiss to a Catholic priest; he has always 
a work to do, and a harvest to reap. 

Were it otherwise, had he not confidence in the 
darkest day, and the most hostile district, he would 
be relinquishing a principal note, as it is called, of 
the Church. She is Catholic, because she brings an 
universal remedy for an universal disease. The disease 
is sin ; all men have sinned ; all men need a recovery 
in Christ ; to all must that recovery be preached and 
dispensed. If then there be a preacher and dispenser 
of recovery, sent from God, that messenger must speak, 
not to one, but to all ; he must be suited to all, he 
must have a mission to the whole race of Adam, and 
be cognizable by every individual of it. I do not 
mean that he must persuade all, and prevail with all — 
for that depends upon the will of each ; but he must 
show his capabilities for converting all by actually con- 
verting some of every time, and every place, and every 
rank, and every age of life, and every character of 
mind. If sin is a partial evil, let its remedy be 
partial; but, if it be not local, not occasional, but 
universal, such must be the remedy. A local religion 
is not from God. The true religion must indeed begin, 
and may linger, in one place; nay, for centuries remain 
there, provided it is expanding and maturing in its 
internal character, and professes the while that it is 
not yet perfect. There may be deep reasons in God's 
counsels, why the proper revelation of His will to man 



the Catholic Missioner. 247 

should have been slowly elaborated and gradually- 
completed in the elementary form of Judaism ; but 
that Eevelation was ever in progress in the Jewish 
period, and pointed by its prophets to a day when it 
should be spread over the whole earth. Judaism then 
was local because it was imperfect ; when it reached 
perfection within, it became universal without, and 
took the name of Catholic. 

Look around, my brethren, at the forms of religion 
now in the world, and you will find that one, and 
one only, has this note of a divine origin. Tlie 
Catholic Church has accompanied human society 
through one revolution of its great year; and is 
now beginning a second. She has passed through 
the full cycle of changes, in order to show us that 
she is independent of them all. She has had trial 
of East and West, of monarchy and democracy, of 
peace and war, of imperial and of feudal tyranny, 
of times of darkness and times of philosophy, of 
barbarousness and luxury, of slaves and freemen, of 
cities and nations, of marts of commerce and seats of 
manufacture, of old countries and young, of metro- 
polis and colonies. She arose in the most happy age 
which perhaps the world has ever known ; for two or 
three hundred years she had to fight against the author- 
ity of law, establish forms of religion, military power, 
an ably cemented empire, and prosperous, contented 
population. And in the course of that period, this 
poor, feeble, despised Association was able to defeat its 
imperial oppressor, in spite of his violent efforts, again 
and again exerted, to rid himself of so despicable an 



248 Prospects of 

assailant. In spite of calumny, in spite of popular 
outbreaks, in spite of cruel torments, the lords of the 
world were forced, as their sole chance of maintaining 
their empire, to come to terms with that body, of 
which the present Church is in name, in line, in 
doctrine, in principles, in manner of being, in moral 
characteristics, the descendant and representative. 
They were forced to humble themselves to her, and 
to enter her pale, and to exalt her, and to depress 
her enemies. She triumphed as never any other 
triumphed before or since. But this was not all; 
scarcely had she secured her triumph, or rather 
set about securing it, when it was all reversed ; 
for the Roman Power, her captive, which with so much 
blood and patience she had subjugated, suddenly came 
to nought. It broke and perished ; and against her 
rushed millions of wild savages from the north and 
east, who had neither God nor conscience, nor even 
natural compassion. She had to begin again ; for 
centuries they came down, one horde after another, 
like roaring waves, and dashed against her base. 
They came again and again, like the armed bands sent 
by the king of Israel against the Prophet; and, as he 
brought fire down from heaven which devoured them 
as they came, so in her more gracious way did Holy 
Church,burningwith zeal and love, devour her enemies, 
multitude after multitude, with the flame which her 
Lord had kindled, " heaping coals of fire upon their 
heads," and "overcoming evil with good." Thus out 
of those fierce strangers were made her truest and most 
loyal children ; — and, then, when from among them 



the Catholic Missioner. 249 

there arose a strong military power, more artificially 
constructed than the old Eoman, with traditions and 
precedents which lasted on for centuries, at first the 
Church's champion and then her rival, here too she had 
to undergo a new conflict, and to gain a new triumph. 
And so I might proceed, going to and fro, and telling 
of her political successes since, and of her intellectual 
victories from the beginning, and of her social im- 
provements, and of her encounters with those other 
circumstances of human nature or combinations of 
human kind, which I just now enumerated ; all which 
prove to us, with a cogency as great as that of a 
physical demonstration, that she comes not of earth, 
that she holds not of earth, that she is no servant of 
man, else he who made could have destroyed her. 

How different, again I say, how different are all 
religions that ever were, from this lofty and unchange- 
able Catholic Church ! They depend on time and 
place for their existence, they live in periods or in 
regions. They are children of the soil, indigenous 
plants, which readily flourish under a certain tempera- 
ture, in a certain aspect, in moist or in dry, and die if 
tliey are transplanted. Their habitat is one article of 
their scientific description. Thus the Greek schism, 
Nestorianism, the heresy of Calvin, and Methodism, 
each has its geographical limits. Protestantism has 
gained nothing in Europe since its first outbreak. 
Some accident gives rise to these religious manifesta- 
tions; some sickly season, the burning sun, the 
vapour-laden marsh, breeds a pestilence, and there it 
remains, hanging in the air over its birth-place perhaps 



250 Prospects of 

for centuries ; then some change takes place in the 
earth or in the heavens, and it suddenly is no more. 
Sometimes, however, it is true, such scourges of God 
have a course upon earth, and affect a Catholic range. 
They issue as from some poisonous lake or pit in 
Ethiopia or in India, and march forth with resistless 
power to fulfil their mission of evil, and walk to and 
fro over the face of the world. Such was the Arabian 
imposture of which Mahomet was the framer ; and 
you will ask, perhaps, whether it has not done that, 
which I have said the Catholic Church alone can do, 
and proved thereby that it had in it an internal prin- 
ciple, which, depending not on man, could subdue him 
in any time or place ? No, my brethren ; look nar- 
rowly, and you will see the marked distinction which 
exists between the religion of Mahomet and the Church 
of Christ. Tor Mahometanism has done little more 
than the Anglican communion is doing at present. 
That communion is found in many parts of the world ; 
its primate has a jurisdiction even greater than the 
Nestorian Patriarch of old ; it has establishments in 
Malta, in Jerusalem, in India, in China, in Australia^ 
in South Africa, and in Canada, whereas Mahome- 
tanism is only an indigenous religion, and that in 
certain portions of two continents, with little power 
or wish to propagate its faith. 

However, at least in Anglicanism, you will say, there 
is that note of Catholicity which in Mahometanism 
is not. 0, my brethren, be not beguiled by words ; 
will any thinking man say for a moment, whatever 
this objection be worth, that the established Eeligion 



the Catholic Missioner. 251 

is superior to time aud place ? well, if not, why set 
about proving that it is ? rather, does not its essence 
lie in its recognition by the State ? is not its estab- 
lishment its very form ? what would it be, would it 
last ten years, if abandoned to itself? It is its estab- 
lishment which erects it into a unity and individuality; 
can you contemplate it, though you stimulate your ima- 
gination to the task, as abstracted from its churches, 
palaces, colleges, parsonages, revenues, civil prece- 
dence, and national position ? Strip it of this world, 
and you have performed a mortal operation upon it, 
for it has ceased to be. Take its bishops out of the 
legislature, tear its formularies from the Statute Book, 
open its universities to Dissenters, allow its clergy to 
become laymen again, legalize its private prayer- 
meetings, and what would be its definition ? You 
know that, did not the State compel it to be one, it 
would split at once into three several bodies, each 
bearing within it the elements of further divisions. 
Even the small party of Non-jurors, a century and a 
half since, when released from the civil power, split 
into two. It has then no internal consistency, or 
individuality, or soul, to give it the capacity of propa- 
gation. Methodism represents some sort of an idea, 
Congregationalism an idea ; the Established Eeligion 
has in it no idea beyond establishment. Its extension 
has been, for the most part, passive not active ; it is 
carried forward into other places by State policy, and 
it moves because the State moves ; it is an appendage, 
whether weapon or decoration, of the sovereign power ; 
it is the religion, not even of a race, but of the ruling 



252 Prospects of 

portion of a race. The A nglo-Saxon has done in this 
day what the Saracen did in a former. He does 
grudgingly for expedience, what the other did heartily 
from fanaticism. This is the chief difference between 
the two ; the Saracen, in his commencement, converted 
the heretical East with the sword ; but at least in India 
the extension of his faith was by immigration, as 
the Anglo-Saxon's may be now ; he grew into other 
nations by commerce and colonization ; but, when he 
encountered the Catholic of the West, he made as 
little impression upon Spain, as the Protestant Anglo- 
Saxon makes on Ireland. 

There is but one form of Christianity, my brethren, 
possessed of that real internal unity which is the 
primary condition of independence. Whether you 
look to Russia, England, or Germany, this note of 
divinity is wanting. In this country, especially, 
there is nothing broader than class religions ; the 
established form itself is but the religion of a class. 
There is one persuasion for the rich, and another for 
the poor ; men are born in this or that sect ; the enthu- 
siastic go here, and the sober-minded and rational go 
there. They make money, and rise in the world, and 
then they profess to belong to the Establishment. 
This body lives in the world's smile, that in its frown ; 
the one would perish of cold in the world's winter, 
and the other would melt away in the summer. Not 
one of them undertakes human nature : none com- 
passes the whole man ; none places all men on a level; 
none addresses the intellect and the heart, fear and 
love, the active and the contemplative. It is con- 



the CatJiolic Missioner. 253 

sidered, and justly, as an evidence for Christianity, 
that the ablest men have been Christians ; not that 
all sagacious or profound minds have taken up its 
profession, but that it has gained victories among 
them, such and so many, as to show that it is not the 
mere fact of ability or learning which is the reason 
why all are not converted. Such too is the character- 
istic of Catholicity ; not the highest in rank, not 
the meanest, not the most refined, not the rudest, is 
beyond the influence of the Church ; she includes 
specimens of every class among her children. She 
is the solace of the forlorn, the chastener of the pros- 
perous, and the guide of the wayward. She keeps a 
mother's eye for the innocent, bears with a heavy 
hand upon the wanton, and has a voice of majesty for 
the proud. She opens the mind of the ignorant, and 
she prostrates the intellect of even the most gifted. 
These are not words ; she has done it, she does it still, 
she undertakes to do it. All she asks is an open field, 
and freedom to act. She asks no patronage from the 
civil power : in former times and places she indeed has 
asked it; and, as Protestantism also, has availed herself 
of the civil sword. It is true she did so, because in 
certain ages it has been the acknowledged mode of 
acting, the most expeditious, and open at the time to 
no objection, and because, where she has done so, the 
people clamoured for it and did it in advance of her ; 
but her history shows that she needed it not, for she 
has extended and flourished without it. She is ready 
for any service which occurs ; she will take the world 
as it comes ; nothing but force can repress her. See, 



254 Prospects of 

my brethren, what she is doing in this country now ; 
for three centuries the civil power has trodden down 
the goodly plant of grace, and kept its foot upon it ; 
at length circumstances have removed that tyranny, 
and lo ! the fair form of the Ancient Church rises up 
at once, as fresh and as vigorous as if she had never 
intermitted her growth. She is the same as she was 
three centuries ago, ere the present religions of the 
country existed ; you know her to be the same ; it is tlie 
charge brought against her that she does not change ; 
time and place affect her not, because she has her source 
where there is neitherplace nor time, because she comes 
from the throne of the Illimitable, Eternal God. 

With these feelings, my brethren, can we fear that 
we shall not have work enough in a vast city like this, 
which has such need of us ? He on whom we repose 
is "yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever." 
If He did His wonders in the days of old, He does 
His wonders now ; if in former days the feeble and 
unworthy were made His instruments of good, so are 
they now. While we trust in Him, while we are true 
to His Church, we know that He intends to use us ; 
how, we know not ; who are to be the objects of His 
mercy, we know not ; we know not to whom we are 
sent ; but we know that tens of thousands cry out for 
us, and that of a surety we shall be sent to His chosen. 
" The word which shall issue from His mouth shall not 
return unto Him void, but shall do His pleasure, and 
shall prosper in the things whereto He hath sent it." 
None so innocent, none so sinful, none so dull, none so 
wise, but are objects for the grace of the Catholic Church. 



the Catholic Missioner. 255 

If we do not prevail with the educated, we shall prevail 
with the rude ; if we fail with the old, we shall gain the 
young ; if we persuade not the serious and respectable, 
we shall succeed with the thoughtless; if we come short 
of those who are near the Church, we shall reach even 
to those who are far distant from it. God's arm is 
not shortened ; He has not sent us here for nothing ; 
unless (which He Himself forbid !) we come to nothing 
by reason of our own disobedience. 

True, there is one class of persons to whom we 
might seem to be sent more than to others, to whom 
we could naturally address ourselves, and on whose 
attention we have a sort of claim. How can I fitly 
bring these remarks to an end without referring to 
them ? There are those, I say, who, like ourselves, 
were in times past gradually led on step by step, till 
with us they stood on the threshold of the Church. 
They felt with us that the Catholic religion was dif- 
ferent from anything else in the world ; and though it 
is difficult to say what more they felt in common (for 
no two persons exactly felt alike), yet they felt they 
had something to learn, their course was not clear to 
them, and they wished to find out God's will. Now, 
what might have been expected of such persons, what 
was natural in them, when they heard that their own 
friends, with whom they had sympathized so fully, 
had gone forward, under a sense of duty, to join the 
Catholic Church ? Surely it was natural, — I will not 
say that they should at once follow them (for they had 
authority also on the side of remaining), — but, at least, 
it was natural that they should weigh the matter well, 



256 Prospects of 

aud listen with interest to what their friends might 
have to tell them. Did they do this in fact ? alas, some 
of tliem did just the contrary : they said, " Since our 
common doctrines and principles have led you forward, 
for that very reason we will go backward ; the more 
we have hitherto agreed with you, the less can we now 
be influenced by you. Because you have gone, there- 
fore, we make up our minds once for all to remain. 
You are a temptation to us, because your arguments 
are strong. You are a warning to us, because you 
must not be our example. We do not wish to hear 
more, lest we hear too much. You were straight- 
forward when on our side, therefore you must be 
sophistical now that you have left it. You were 
right in making converts then, therefore you are 
wrong in making converts now. You have spoiled a 
promising cause, and you deserve from us no mercy." 
Thus they speak ; let them say it before the 
judgment-seat of Christ ! Take it at the best ad- 
vantage, my brethren, and what is the argument 
based upon but this, — that all investigation must be 
wrong, which results in a change of religion ? The 
process is condemned by its issue ; it is a mere 
absurdity to give up the religion of our birth, the 
home of our affections, the seat of our influence, the 
well-spring of our maintenance. It was an absurdity 
in St. Paul to become a Christian ; it was an absurdity 
in him to weep over his brethren who could not listen 
to him. I understand now, as I have not understood 
before, why it was that the Jews hugged themselves 
in their Judaism, and were proof against persuasion. 



the Catholic Missioner. 257 

In vain the Apostles insisted, " Your religion leads to 
ours, and ours is a fact before your eyes ; why wait for 
what is abeady present, as if it were still to come ? 
do you consider your Church perfect ? do you profess 
to have attained ? why not turn at least your thoughts 
towards Christianity ? " " No," said they, " we will 
live, we will die, where we were born ; the religion of 
our ancestors, the religion of our nation, is the only 
truth ; it must be safe not to move. We will not un- 
church ourselves, we will not descend from our preten- 
sions ; we will shut our hearts to conviction, and will 
stake eternity on our position," Oh great argument, 
not for Jews only, but for Mahometans, for Hindoos ! 
great argument for heathen of all lands, for all who 
prefer this world to another, who prefer a temporary 
peace to truth, present ease to forgiveness of sins, the 
smile of friends to the favour of Christ ! but weak 
argument, strong delusion, in the clear ray of heaven, 
and in the eye of Him who comes to judge the world 
with fire ! 

my dear brethren, if any be here present to 
whom these remarks may more or less apply, do us not 
the injustice to think that we aim at your conver- 
sion for any party purpose of our own. What should 
we gain from your joining us but an additional charge 
and responsibility ? But who can bear to think that 
pious, religious hearts, on which the grace of God 
has been so singularly shed, who so befit conversion, 
who are intended for heaven, should be falling back 
into the world out of which they have been called 
and losing a prize which was once within their reach 

17 



258 Prospects of 

Who that knows you, can get himself to believe that 
you will always disappoint the yearning hopes of 
those whom once you loved so much, and helped 
forward so effectually ! Dies venit, dies Tua, the day 
shall come, though it may tarry, and we will in 
patience wait for it. Still the truth must be spoken, 
— we do not need you, but you need us ; it is not we 
who shall be baffled if we cannot gain you, but you 
who will come short, if you be not gained. Eemain, 
then, in the barrenness of your affections, and the decay 
of your zeal, and the perplexity of your reason, if 
you will not be converted. Alas, there is work enough 
to do, less troublesome, less anxious, than the care 
of your souls. There are thousands of sinners to be 
reconciled, of the young to be watched over, of the 
devout to be consoled. God needs not worshippers ; 
He needs not objects for His mercy ; He can do with- 
out you ; He offers His benefits, and passes on ; He 
delays not ; He offers once, not twice and thrice ; He 
goes on to others ; He turns to the Gentiles ; He turns 
to open sinners ; He refuses the well-conducted for 
the outcast ; " He hath filled the hungry with good 
things, and the rich He hath sent empty away." 

For me, my brethren, it is not likely that you 
will hear me again ; these may be my first and last 
words to you, for this is not my home. Si justifi- 
care me valuer 0, os meum condemnabit me, " If I wish 
to justify myself, my mouth shall condemn me ; if I 
shall show forth my innocence, it shall prove me 
perverse ; " yet, though full of imperfections, full of 
miseries, I trust that I may say in my measure after 



the Catholic Missioner. 259 

the Apostle, " I have lived in all good conscience 
before God unto this day. Our glory is this, the 
testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity of 
heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, 
but in the grace of God, we have lived in this world, 
and more abundantly towards you." I have followed 
His guidance, and He has not disappointed me ; I 
have put myself into His hands, and He has given 
me what I sought ; and as He has been with me 
hitherto, so may He, and His Blessed Mother, and 
all good Angels and Saints, be with me unto the end. 



DISCOURSE XIII. 

MYSTERIES OF NATURE AND OF GRACE. 

T AM going to assert, what some persons, my 
brethren, those especially whom it most con- 
cerns, will not hesitate to call a great paradox ; but 
which, nevertheless, I consider to be most true, and 
likely to approve itself to you more and more, the 
oftener you turn your thoughts to the subject, and 
likely to be confirmed in the religious history of 
this country as time proceeds. It is this: — that 
it is quite as difficult, and quite as easy, to believe 
that there is a God in heaven, as to believe that 
the Catholic Church is His oracle and minister on 
earth. I do not mean to say, that it is really diffi- 
cult to believe in God (God Himself forbid !) no ; 
but that belief in God and belief in His Church stand 
on the same kind of foundation ; that the proof of the 
one truth is like the proof of the other truth, and 
that the objections which may be made to the one are 
like the objections which may be made to the other ; 
and that, as right reason and sound judgment over- 
rule objections to the being of a God, so do they 
supersede and set aside objections to the divine mis- 
sion of the Church. And I consider that, when once 



Mysteries of Nature and of G7^ace. 261 

a man has a real hold of the great doctrine that there 
is a God, in its true meaning and bearings, then 
(provided there be no disturbing cause, no peculiarities 
in his circumstances, involuntary ignorance, or the 
like), he will be led on without an effort, as by a 
natural continuation of that belief, to believe also in 
the Catholic Church as God's messenger or Prophet, 
dismissing as worthless the objections which are ad- 
ducible against the latter truth, as he dismisses objec- 
tions adducible against the former. And I consider, 
on the other hand, that when a man does not believe 
in the Church, then (the same accidental impediments 
being put aside as before), there is nothing in reason 
to keep him from doubting the being of a God. 

The state of the case is this; — every one spon- 
taneously embraces the doctrine of the existence of 
God, as a first principle, and a necessary assumption. 
It is not so much proved to him, as borne in upon his 
mind irresistibly, as a truth which it does not occur 
to him, nor is possible for him, to doubt ; so various 
and so abundant is the witness for it contained in the 
experience and the conscience of every one. He 
cannot unravel the process, or put his finger on the 
independent arguments, which conspire together to 
create in him the certainty which he feels ; but certain 
of it he is, and he has neither the temptation nor the 
wish to doubt it, and he could, should need arise, at 
least point to the books or the persons from whence 
he could obtain the various formal proofs on which 
the being of a God rests, and the irrefragable demon- 
stration thence resulting against the freethinker and 



262 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

the sceptic. At the same time he certainly would 
find, if he was in a condition to pursue the subject 
himself, that unbelievers had the advantage of him 
so far as this, — that there were a number of objections 
to the doctrine which he could not satisfy, questions 
which he could not solve, mysteries which he could 
neither conceive nor explain ; he would perceive that 
the body of proof itself might be more perfect and 
complete than it is ; he would not find indeed any- 
thing to invalidate that proof, but many things which 
might embarrass him in discussion, or afford a plau- 
sible, though not a real, excuse for doubting about it. 

The case is pretty much the same as regards the 
great moral law of God. We take it for granted, and 
rightly; what could we do, where should we be, 
without it ? how could we conduct ourselves, if there 
were no difference between right and wrong, and if one 
action were as acceptable to our Creator as another ? 
Impossible ! if anything is true and divine, the rule 
of conscience is such, and it is frightful to suppose 
the contrary. Still, in spite of this, there is quite 
room for objectors to insinuate doubts about its autho- 
rity or its enunciations ; and where an inquirer is cold 
and fastidious, or careless, or wishes an excuse for dis- 
obedience, it is easy for him to perplex and disorder his 
reason, till he begins to question whether what he has 
all his life thought to be sins, are really such, and 
whether conscientiousness is not in fact a superstition. 

And in like manner as regards the Catholic Church; 
she bears upon her the tokens of divinity, which come 
home to any mind at once, which has not been pos- 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 263 

sessed by prejudice, and educated in suspicion. It is 
not so much a process of inquiry as an instantaneous 
recognition, on which the mind believes. Moreover, 
it is possible to analyze the arguments and draw up 
in form the great proof, on which her claims rest; 
but, on the other hand, it is quite possible also for 
opponents to bring forward certain imposing objections, 
which, though they do not really interfere with those 
claims, still are specious in themselves, and are suffi- 
cient to arrest and entangle the mind, and to keep 
it back from a fair examination of the proof, and of 
the vast array of arguments of which it consists. I 
am alluding to such objections as the following; — 
How can Almighty God be Three and yet One ; how 
can Christ be God and yet man ; how can He be at 
once in the Blessed Sacrament under the form of 
Bread and Wine, and yet in heaven ; how is the doc- 
trine of eternal punishment consistent with the Infinite 
Mercy of God; — or, again, how is it that, if the 
Catholic Church be from God, the gift of belonging 
to her is not, and has not been, granted to all men ; 
how is it that so many apparently good men are ex- 
ternal to her ; why does she pay such honour to the 
Blessed Virgin and all Saints ; how is it that, since 
the Bible also is from God, it admits of being quoted 
in opposition to her teaching ; in a word, how is it, if 
she is from God, that everything which she does and 
says, is not perfectly intelligible to man, intelligible, 
not only to man in general, but to the reason and 
judgment and taste of every individual of the species, 
taken one by one ? 



264 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

Now, whatever my anxiety may be about the next 
generation, I trust I need at present have none in in- 
sisting, before a congregation however mixed, on the 
mysteries or difficulties which attach to the doctrine 
of God's existence, and which must be of necessity 
acquiesced in by every one who believes it. I trust, 
and am sure, that as yet it is safe even to put before one 
who is not a Cathohc some points which he is obliged 
to accept, whether he will or no, when he confesses 
that there is a God. I am going to do so, not wan- 
tonly, but with a definite object, by way of showing 
him, that he is not called on to believe anything in 
the Catholic Church more strange or inexplicable 
than he already admits when he believes in a God ; so 
that, if God exists in spite of the difficulties attending 
the doctrine, so the Church may be of divine origin, 
though that truth also has its difficulties; — nay, I 
might even say, the Church is divine, because of those 
difficulties ; for the difficulties which exist in the 
doctrine that there is a Divine Being, do but give 
countenance and protection to parallel difficulties in 
the doctrine that there is a Catholic Church. If there 
be mysteriousness in her teaching, this does but show 
that she proceeds from Him, who is Himself Mystery, 
in the most simple and elementary ideas which we 
have of Him, whom we cannot contemplate at all 
except as One who is absolutely greater than our 
reason, and utterly strange to our imagination. 

First then, consider that Almighty God had no 
beginning, and that this is necessary from the nature 
of the case, and inevitable. For if (to suppose what 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 265 

is absurd) the maker of the visible world was himself 
made by some other maker, and that maker again by 
another, you must anyhow come at last to a first 
Maker who had no maker, that is, who had no begin- 
ning. If you will not admit this, you will be forced 
to say that the world was not made at all, or made 
itself, and itself had no beginning, which is more 
wonderful still ; for it is much easier to conceive that 
^ Spirit, such as God is, existed from eternity, than 
that this material world was eternal. Unless then 
we are resolved to doubt that we live in a world of 
beings at all, unless we doubt our own existence, if we 
do but grant that there is something or other now 
existing, it follows at once, that there must be some- 
thing or other which has always existed, and never 
had a beginning. This then is certain from the neces- 
sity of the case ; but can there be a more overwhelm- 
ing mystery than it is ? To say that a being had no 
beginning seems a contradiction in terms ; it is a 
mystery as great, or rather greater, than any in the 
Oatholic Faith. For instance, it is the teaching of 
the Church that the Father is God, the Son God, and 
the Holy Ghost God, yet that there is but one God ; 
this is simply incomprehensible to us, but at least, so 
far as this, it involves no self-contradiction, because 
God is not Three and One in the same sense, but He 
is Three in one sense and One in another ; on the 
■contrary, to say that any being has no beginniag, is 
like a statement which means nothing and is an ab- 
surdity. And so again, Protestants think that the 
Catholic doctrine of the Eeal Presence cannot be true. 



266 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

because, if so, (as they argue) our Lord's Body is in 
two places at once, in Heaven and upon the Altar, 
and this they say is an impossibility. Now, Catho- 
lics do not see that it is impossible at all, that our Lord 
should be in Heaven yet on the Altar ; they do not 
indeed see liow it can be both, but they do not see why 
it should not be ; there are many things which exist, 
though we do not know li&vj ; — do we know how any- 
thing exists ? — there are many truths which are not 
less truths because we cannot picture them to ourselves 
or conceive them; but at any rate, the Catholic 
doctrine concerning the Real Presence is not more 
mysterious than how Almighty God can exist, yet 
never have come into existence. We do not know 
what is meant by saying that Almighty God will have 
no end, but still there is nothing here to distress or 
confuse our reason, but it distorts our mental sight 
and makes our head giddy to have to say (what 
nevertheless we cannot help saying), that He had na 
beginning. Reason brings it home clearly to us, yet 
reason again starts at it ; reason starts back from its 
own discovery, yet is obliged to endure it. It dis- 
covers, it shrinks, it submits; such is the state of 
the case, but, I say, they who are obliged to bow their 
neck to this mystery, need not be so sensitive about 
the mysteries of the Catholic Church. 

Then think of this again, which, though not so 
baffling to the reason, still is most bewildering to the 
imagination; — that, if the Almighty had no begin- 
ning He must have lived a whole eternity by Him- 
self. What an awful thought ! for us, our happiness 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 267 

lies in looking up to some object, or pursuing some 
end; we, poor mortal men, cannot understand a 
prolonged rest, except as a sort of sloth and self- 
forgetfulness ; we are wearied if we meditate for one 
short hour ; what then is meant when it is said, thai 
He, the Great God, passed infinite ages by Him- 
self ? What was the end of His being ? He was His 
own end; how incomprehensible! And since He lived 
a whole eternity by Himself, He might, had He so 
willed, never have created anything ; and then from 
eternity to eternity there would have been none but 
He, none to witness Him, none to contemplate Him, 
none to adore and praise Him. How oppressive to 
think of ! that there should have been no space, no 
time, no succession, no variation, no progression, 
no scope, no termination. One Infinite Being from 
first to last, and nothing else ! And why He ? Which 
is the less painful to our imagination, the idea of 
only one Being in existence, or of nothing at all? 
my brethren, here is mystery without mitigation, 
without relief ! how severe and frightful ! The mys- 
teries of Eevelation, the Catholic dogmas, inconceivable 
as they are, are most gracious, most loving, laden 
with mercy and consolation to us, not only sublime, 
but touching and winning ; — such is the doctrine that 
God became man. Incomprehensible it is, and we 
can but adore, when we hear that the Almighty Being, 
of whom I have been speaking, " who inhabiteth 
eternity," has taken flesh and blood of a Virgin's 
veins, lain in a Virgin's womb, been suckled at a 
Virgin's breast, been obedient to human parents. 



268 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

worked at a humble trade, been despised by His 
own, been buffeted and scourged by His creatures, 
been nailed band and foot to a Cross, and has died 
a malefactor's death ; and that now, under the form 
of Bread, He should lie upon our Altars, and suffer 
Himself to be hidden in a small tabernacle ! 

Most incomprehensible, but still, while the thought 
overwhelms our imagination, it also overpowers our 
heart ; it is the most subduing, affecting, piercing 
thought which can be pictured to us. It thrills through 
us, and draws our tears, and abases us, and melts us 
into love and affection, when we dwell upon it. 
most tender and compassionate Lord ! You see. 
He puts out of our sight that mysteriousness of His, 
which is only awful and terrible ; He insists not on 
His past eternity ; He would not scare and trouble 
His poor children, when at length He speaks to 
them ; no. He does but surround Himself with His 
own infinite bountif ulness and compassion ; He bids 
His Church tell us only of His mysterious conde- 
scension. Still our reason, prying, curious reason, 
searches out for us those prior and more austere 
mysteries, which are attached to His Being, and He 
suffers us to find them out. He suffers us, for He knows 
that that same reason, though it recoils from them, must 
put up with them ; He knows that they will be felt by 
it to be clear, inevitable truths, appalling as they are. 
He suffers it to discover them, in order that, both by 
the parallel and by the contrast between what reason 
infers and what the Church reveals, we may be drawn 
on from the awful discoveries of the one to the 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 269 

gracious announcements of the other ; and in order, 
too, that the rejection of Eevelation may be its own 
punishment, and that they who stumble at the Catholic 
mysteries may be dashed back upon the adamantine 
rocks which base the throne of the Everlasting, and 
may wrestle with the stern conclusions of reason, 
since they refuse the bright consolations of faith. 

And now another difficulty, which reason discovers, 
yet cannot explain. Since the world exists, and did 
not ever exist, there was a time when the Almighty 
changed that state of things, which had been from 
all eternity, for another state. It was wonderful that 
He should be by Himself for an eternity ; moreover, 
it had been wonderful, had He never changed it ; but 
it is wonderful, too, that He did change it. It is 
wonderful tliat, being for an eternity alone. He 
should ever pass from that solitary state, and sur- 
round Himself with millions upon millions of living 
beings. A state which had been from eternity might 
well be considered unchangeable ; yet it ceased, and 
another superseded it. What end could the All- 
blessed have had in beginning to create, and in 
determining to pass a second eternity so differently 
from the first ? This mystery, my brethren, will 
tend to reconcile us, I think, to the difficulty of a 
question sometimes put to us by unbelievers, viz., 
if the Catholic Religion is from God, why was it set 
up so late in the world's day ? Why did some thou- 
sands of years pass before Christ came and His gifts 
were poured upon the race of man ? But, surely, it 
is not so strange that the Judge of men should have 



2 70 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

changed His dealings towards them " in the midst 
of the years," as that He should have changed the 
history of the heavens in the midst of eternity. If 
creation had a beginning at a certain date, why 
should not redemption ? And if we be forced to be- 
lieve, whether we will or no, that there was once an 
innovation upon the course of things on high, and 
that the universe arose out of nothing, and if, even 
when the earth was created, still it remained " empty 
and void, and darkness was upon the face of the 
deep," what so great marvel is it, that there was a 
fixed period in God's inscrutable counsels, during 
which there was " a bond fastened upon all people," 
and a " web drawn over them," and then a date, at 
which the bond of thraldom was broken, and the web 
■of error was unravelled ? 

Well, let us suppose the innovation decreed in the 
eternal purpose of the Most High, and that creation 
is to be ; of whom, my brethren, shall it consist ? 
Doubtless of beings who can praise and bless Him, 
who can admire His perfections, and obey His will, 
who will be least unworthy to minister about His 
Throne, and to keep Him company. Look around, 
and say how far facts bear out this anticipation. 
There is but one race of intelligent beings, as far as 
we have experience by nature, and a thousand races 
which cannot love or worship Him who made them. 
Millions upon millions enjoy their brief span of life, 
but man alone can look up to heaven ; and what is 
man, many though he be, what is he in the pre- 
sence of so innumerable a multitude ? Consider the 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 271 

abundance of beasts that range tlie earth, of birds 
under the firmament of heaven, of fish in the depths 
of the ocean, and, above all, the exuberant varieties 
of insects, which baffle our enumeration by their 
minuteness, and our powers of conception by their 
profusion. Doubtless they all show forth the glory 
of the Creator, as do the elements, " fire, hail, snow, 
and ice, stormy winds, which fulfil His word." Yet 
not one of them has a soul, not one of them knows 
who made it, or that it is made, not one can render 
Him any proper service, not one can love Him. In- 
deed how far does the whole world come short in all 
respects of what it might be ! It is not even pos- 
sessed of created excellence in fulness. It is stamped 
with imperfection ; everything indeed is good in its 
kind, for God could create nothing otherwise, but 
how much more fully might He have poured His 
glory and infused His grace into it, how much more 
beautiful and divine a world might He have made, 
than that which, after an eternal silence. He sum- 
moned into being! Let reason answer, I repeat, — 
Why is it that He did not surround Himself with 
spiritual intelligences, and animate every material 
atom with a soul ? Why made He not the very foot- 
stool of His Throne and the pavement of His Temple 
of an angelic nature, of beings who could praise and 
bless Him, while they did Him menial service ? Set 
man's wit and man's imagination to the work of 
devising a world, and you would see, my brethren, 
what a far more splendid design he would submit 
for it, than met the good pleasure of the Omnipo- 



272 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

tent and All-wise. Ambitious architect he would 
have been, if called to build the palace of the Lord 
of all, in which every single part would have been 
the best conceivable, the colours all the brightest^ 
the materials the most costly, and the lineaments 
the most perfect. Pass from man's private fancies 
and ideas, and fastidious criticisms on the vast sub- 
ject ; come to facts which are before our eyes, and 
report what meets them. We see an universe, ma- 
terial for the most part and corruptible, fashioned 
indeed by laws of infinite skill, and betokening an 
All- wise Hand, but lifeless and senseless ; huge globes, 
hurled into space, and moving mechanically ; subtle 
influences, penetrating into the most hidden corners 
and pores of the world, as quick and keen as thought, 
yet as helpless as the clay from which thought 
has departed. And next, life without sense ; myriads 
of trees and plants, "the grass of the field," beau- 
tiful to the eye, but perishable and worthless in the 
sight of heaven. And, then, when at length we 
discover sense as well as life, what, I repeat, do 
we see but a greater mystery still ? We behold 
the spectacle of brute nature ; of impulses, feelings, 
propensities, passions, which in us are ruled or re- 
pressed by a superintending reason, but from which, 
when ungovernable, we shrink, as fearful and hate- 
ful, because in us they would be sin. Millions of 
irrational creatures surround us, and it would seem 
as though the Creator had left part of His work in 
its original chaos, so monstrous are these beings, 
which move and feel and act without reflection and 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 273 

without principle. To matter He has given laws ; He 
has divided the moist and the dry, the heavy and 
the rare, the light and the dark ; He has " placed 
the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual pre- 
cept which it shall not pass." He has tamed the 
elements, and made them servants of the universal 
good ; but the brute beasts pass to and fro in their 
wildness and their isolation, no yoke on their neck 
or " bit in their lips," the enemies of all they meet, 
yet without the capacity of self-love. They live on 
each other's flesh by an original necessity of their 
being; their eyes, their teeth, their claws, their 
muscles, their voice, their walk, their structure 
within, all speak of violence and blood. They seem 
made to inflict pain; they rush on their prey with 
fierceness, and devour it with greediness. There is 
scarce a passion or a feeling which is sin in man, but 
is found brute and irresponsible in them. Eage, 
wanton cruelty, hatred, sullenness, jealousy, revenge, 
cunning, malice, envy, lust, vain-glory, gluttony, each 
has its representative ; and say, theistical philo- 
sopher of this world, who wouldest fain walk by 
reason only, and scornest the Catholic faith, is it not 
marvellous, or explain it, if thou canst, that the All- 
wise and All-good should have poured over the face 
of His fair creation these rude and inchoate exist- 
ences, to look like sinners, though they be not; 
and these too created before man, perhaps for an 
untold period, and dividing the earth with him since, 
and the actual lords of a great portion of it even now ? 

The crowning work of God is man ; he is the flower 
18 



2 74 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

and perfection of creation, and made to serve and 
worship his Creator ; look at him then, Sages, who 
scoff at the revealed word, scrutinize him, and say in 
sincerity, is he a fit offering to present to the great 
God ? I must not speak of sin ; you will not acknow- 
ledge the term, or will explain it away ; yet consider 
man as he is found in the world, and, — owning as you 
must own, that the many do not act by rule or principle, 
and that few give any honour to their Maker — seeing, 
as you see, that enmities, frauds, cruelties, oppressions, 
injuries, excesses are almost the constituents of human 
life — knowing too the wonderful capabilities of man, yet 
their necessary frustration in so brief an existence, — can 
you venture to say that the Church's yoke is heavy, when 
you yourselves, viewing the Universe from end to end, 
are compelled, by the force of reason, to submit your 
reason to the confession that God has created nothing 
perfect, a world of order which is dead and corruptible, 
a world of immortal spirits which is in rebellion ? 

I come then to this conclusion ; — if I must submit 
my reason to mysteries, it is not much matter whether 
it is a mystery more or a mystery less, when faith any- 
how is the very essence of all religion, when the main 
difficulty to an inquirer is firmly to hold that there is 
a Living God, in spite of the darkness which surrounds 
Him, the Creator, Witness, and Judge of men. When 
once the mind is broken in, as it must be, to the belief 
of a Power above it, when once it understands, that it 
is not itself the measure of all things in heaven and 
earth, it will have little difl&culty in going forward. I 
do not say it wiU, or can, go on to other truths, without 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 275 

conviction ; I do not say it ought to believe the Catholic 
faith without grounds and motives ; but I say that, 
when once it believes in God, the great obstacle to faith 
has been taken away, — a proud self-sufficient spirit. 
When once a man really, with the eyes of his soul and 
by the power of divine grace, recognizes his Creator, 
he has passed a line ; that has happened to him which 
cannot happen twice ; he has bent his stiff neck, and 
triumphed over himself. If he believes that God has 
no beginning, why not believe that He is Three yet 
One ? if he owns that God created space, why not own 
also that He can cause a body to subsist without de- 
pendence on place ? if he is obliged to grant that God 
created all things out of nothing, why doubt His 
power to change the substance of bread into the Body 
of His Son ? It is as strange that, after an eternal 
rest. He should begin to create, as that, when He had 
once created, He should take on Himself a created 
nature ; it is as strange that man should be allowed to 
fall so low, as we see before our eyes in so many dreadful 
instances, as that Angels and Saints should be exalted 
even to religious honours ; it is as strange that such 
large families in the animal world should be created 
without souls and subject to vanity, as that one crea- 
ture, the Blessed Mother of God, should be exalted 
over all the rest ; as strange, that the book of nature 
should sometimes seem to vary from the rule of con- 
science or the conclusions of reason, as that the 
Church's Scriptures should admit of being inter- 
preted in opposition to her Tradition. And if it shocks 
a religious mind to doubt of the beins of the All- wise 



276 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

and All-good God, on the ground of the mysteries in 
Nature, why may it not shrink also from using the 
revealed mysteries as an argument against Eevelation? 
And now, my dear brethren, who are as yet exter- 
nal to the Church, if I have brought you as far as 
this, T really do not see why I have not brought you 
on to make your submission to her. Can you delibe- 
rately sit down amid the bewildering mysteries of crea- 
tion, when a refuge is held out to you, in which reason 
is rewarded for its faith by the fulfilment of its hopes ? 
Nature does not exempt you from the trial of believ- 
ing, but it gives you nothing in return ; it does but 
disappoint you. You must submit your reason any- 
how ; you are not in better circumstances if you turn 
from the Church ; you merely do not secure what you 
have already sought in nature in vain. The simple 
question to be decided is one of fact, has a revelation 
been given ? You lessen, not increase your difficulties 
by receiving it. It comes to you recommended and 
urged upon you by the most favourable anticipations 
of reason. The very difficulties of nature make it 
likely that a revelation should be made ; the very mys- 
teries of creation call for some act on the part of the 
Creator, by which those mysteries shall be alleviated 
to you or compensated. One of the greatest of the 
perplexities of nature is this very one, that the Creator 
should have left you to yourselves. You know there 
is a God, yet you know your own ignorance of Him, 
of His will, of your duties, of your prospects. A re- 
velation would be the greatest of possible boons which 
could be vouchsafed to you. After all, you do not 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 277 

know, you only conclude that there is a God ; you see 
Him not, you do but hear of Him, He acts under a 
veil ; He is on the point of manifesting Himself to 
you at every turn, yet He does not. He has impressed 
on your hearts anticipations of His majesty ; in every 
part of creation has He left traces of His presence 
and given glimpses of His glory ; you come up to the 
spot. He has been there, but He is gone. He has 
taught you His law, unequivocally indeed, but by de- 
duction and by suggestion, not by direct command. 
He has always addressed you circuitously, by your in- 
ward sense, by the received opinion, by the events of 
life, by vague traditions, by dim histories ; but as if 
of set purpose, and by an evident law, He never actu- 
ally appears to your longing eyes or your weary heart. 
He never confronts you with Himself. What can be 
meant by all this ? a spiritual being abandoned by its 
Creator ! there must doubtless be some awful and all- 
wise reason for it ; still a sore trial it is ; so sore, 
surely, that you must gladly hail the news of His 
interference to remove or diminish it. 

The news then of a revelation, far from suspicious, 
is borne in upon our hearts by the strongest presump- 
tions of reason in its behalf. It is hard to believe that 
it has not been given, as indeed the conduct of mankind 
has ever shown. You cannot help expecting it from 
the hands of the All-merciful, unworthy as you feel 
yourselves of it. It is not that you can claim it, but 
that He inspires hope of it ; it is not you that are 
worthy of the gift, but it is the gift which is worthy 
of your Creator. It is so urgently probable, that 



278 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

little evidence is required for it, even though but little 
were given. Evidence that God has spoken you 
must have, else were you a prey to impostures ; but its 
extreme likelihood allows you, were it necessary, to 
dispense with all proof that is not barely sufficient 
for your purpose. The very fact, I say, that there is 
a Creator, and a hidden one, powerfully bears you on 
and sets you down at the very threshold of revelation, 
and leaves you there looking up earnestly for divine 
tokens that a revelation has been made. 

Do you go with me as far as this, that a revelation 
is probable ? well then, a second remark, and I have 
done. It is this, — the teaching of the Church mani- 
festly is that revelation. Why should it not be ? 
This mark has she upon her at very first sight, that 
she is unlike every other profession of religion. Were 
she God's Prophet or Messenger, she would be dis- 
tinctive in her characteristics, isolated, and special; 
and so she is. She is one, not only in herself, but 
in contrast to everything else : she has no relation- 
ship with any other body. And hence too, you see 
the question lies between the Church and no divine 
messenger at all ; there is no revelation given us, 
unless she is the organ of it, for where else is there a 
Prophet to be found ? The anticipation, which I 
have been urging, has failed, the probability has 
been falsified, if she be not that Prophet of God. 
Not that this conclusion is an absurdit}', for you cannot 
take it for granted that your hope of a revelation will 
be fulfilled ; but in whatever degree it is probable that 
it will be fulfilled, in that degree it is probable that 



Mysteries of Nature aftd of Grace. 279 

the Church, and nothing else, is the means of fulfil- 
ling it. Nothing else ; for you cannot believe in your 
heart that this or that Sect, that this or that Estab- 
lishment is, in its teaching and its commands, the 
oracle of the Most High. I know you cannot say in 
your heart, " I believe this or that, because the 
English Establishment or the Scotch declares that it 
is true." Nor could you, I am sure, trust the Eussian 
hierarchy, or the Nestorian, or the Eutychian as 
speaking from God ; at the utmost you might, if you 
were learned in these matters, look on them as vener- 
able depositories of historical matter, and witnesses 
of past ages. You would exercise your judgment and 
criticism on what they said, and would never think 
of taking their word as decisive ; they are in no sense 
Prophets, Oracles, Judges, of supernatural truth ; and 
the contrast between them and the Catholic Church 
is a preliminary evidence in her favour. 

A Prophet is one who comes from God, who speaks 
with authority, who is ever one and the same, who is 
precise and decisive in his statements, who is equal to 
successive difficulties, and can smite and overthrow 
error. Such has the Catholic Church shown herself 
in her history, such is she at this day. She alone has 
had the divine spell of controlling the reason of man, 
aud of eliciting faith in her word from high and low, 
educated and ignorant, restless and dull-minded. 
Even those who are alien to her, and whom she does 
not move to obedience, she moves to respect and 
admiration. The most profound thinkers and the 
most sagacious politicians predict her future triumphs, 



28o Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

while they marvel at her past. Her enemies are 
frightened at the sight of her, and have no better 
mode of warfare against her than that of blackening her 
with slanders, or of driving her into the wilderness. 
To see her is to recognize her ; her look and bearing 
is the evidence of her royal lineage. True, her tokens 
might be clearer than they are ; I grant it ; she 
might have been set up in Adam, and not in Peter ; 
she might have embraced the whole family of man ; 
she might have been the instrument of inwardly con- 
verting all hearts ; she might have had no scandals 
within or misfortunes without; she might in short 
have been, I repeat, a heaven on earth ; but, I repeat, 
does she not show as glorious in our sight as a creature, 
as her God does as the Creator ? If He does not dis- 
play the highest possible tokens of His presence in 
nature, why should His Messenger display such in grace? 
You believe the Scriptures ; does she not in her cha- 
racter and conduct show as divine as Jacob does, or 
as Samuel, or as David, or as Jeremias, or in a far 
higher measure ? Has she not notes far more than 
sufficient for the purpose of convincing you ? She takes 
her rise from the very coming of Christ, and receives 
her charter, as also her very form and mission, from 
His mouth. " Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for 
flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My 
Father who is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that 
thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My 
Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against 
it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 28 1 

shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou 
shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven." 

Coming to you then from the very time of the 
Apostles, spreading out into all lands, triumphing 
over a thousand revolutions, exhibiting so awful a 
unity, glorying in so mysterious a vitality, so majestic, 
so imperturbable, so bold, so saintly, so sublime, so 
beautiful, ye sons of men, can ye doubt that she 
is the Divine Messenger for whom you seek ? Oh, long 
sought after, tardily found, desire of the eyes, joy of 
the heart, the truth after many shadows, the fulness 
after many foretastes, the home after many storms, 
come to her, poor wanderers, for she it is, and she 
alone, who can unfold the meaning of your being and 
the secret of your destiny. She alone can open to 
you the gate of heaven, and put you on your way. 
" Arise, shine, Jerusalem ; for thy light is come, 
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; for, 
behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the 
people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His 
glory shall be seen upon thee." " Open ye the gates, 
that the just nation, that keepeth the truth, may 
enter in. The old error is passed away ; Thou wilt 
keep peace, — peace, because we have hoped in Thee. 
Lord, Thou wilt give peace to us, for Thou hast 
wrought all our works for us. Lord, our God, other 
lords besides Thee have had dominion over us, but in 
Thee only make we mention of Thy Name. The 
dying, they shall not live ; the giants, they shall not 
rise again; therefore Thou hast visited and broken 
them, and hast destroyed all their memory." 



282 Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 

my brethren, turn away from the Catholic 
Church, and to whom will you go ? it is your only 
chance of peace and assurance in this turbulent, 
changing world. There is nothing between it and 
scepticism, when men exert their reason freely. 
Private creeds, fancy religions, may be showy and 
imposing to the many in their day ; national religions 
may lie huge and lifeless, and cumber the ground for 
centuries, and distract the attention or confuse the 
judgment of the learned ; but on the long run it will 
be found that either the Catholic Eeligion is verily 
and indeed the coming in of the unseen world into 
this, or that there is nothing positive, nothing 
dogmatic, nothing real in any of our notions as to 
whence we come and whither we are going. Unlearn 
Catholicism, and you open the way to your becoming 
Protestant, Unitarian, Deist, Pantheist, Sceptic, in a 
dreadful, but inevitable succession ; only not inevitable 
by some accident of your position, of your education, 
and of your cast of mind ; only not inevitable, if you 
dismiss the subject of religion from your view, deny 
yourself your reason, devote your thoughts to moral 
duties, or dissipate them in engagements of the world. 
Go, then, and do your duty to your neighbour, be just, 
be kindly-tempered, be hospitable, set a good example, 
uphold religion as good for society, pursue your busi- 
ness, or your profession, or your pleasure, eat and 
drink, read the news, visit your friends, build and 
furnish, plant and sow, buy and sell, plead and debate^ 
work for the world, settle your children, go home 
and die, but eschew religious inquiry, if you will not 



Mysteries of Nature and of Grace. 28 



o 



have faith, nor fancy that you can have faith, if you 
will not join the Church. 

Else avoid, I say, inquiry ; for it will but lead you 
thither, where there is no light, no peace, no hope ; it 
will lead you to the deep pit, where the sun, and the 
moon, and the stars, and the beauteous heavens are 
not, but chilliness, and barrenness, and perpetual 
desolation. perverse children of men, who refuse 
truth when offered you, because it is not truer ! O 
restless hearts and fastidious intellects, who seek a 
gospel more salutary than the Eedeemer's, and a 
creation more perfect than the Creator's ! God, for- 
sooth, is not great enough for you ; you have those 
high aspirations and those philosophical notions^ 
inspired by the original Tempter, which are content 
with nothing that is, which determine that the Most 
High is too little for your worship, and His attributes 
too narrow for your love. 

But enough ; — while we thus speak of the Evil 
One and his victims, let us not forget to look to 
ourselves. God forbid that, while we preach to 
others, we ourselves should become castaways ! 



DISCOURSE XIV. 

THE MYSTERY OF DIVINE CONDESCENSION. 

nPHE Eternal Word, the Only-begotten Son of the 
-*- Father, put off His glory, and came down upon 
earth, to raise us to heaven. Though He was God, 
He became Man ; though He was Lord of all, He be- 
came as a servant ; " though He was rich, yet for our 
sakes He became poor, that we, through His poverty, 
might be rich." He came from heaven in so humble 
an exterior, that the self-satisfied Pharisees despised 
Him, and treated Him as a madman or an impostor. 
When He spoke of His father Abraham, and implied 
His knowledge of him, who was in truth but the 
creature of His hands, they said in derision, " Thou 
art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abra- 
ham ? " He made answer, " Amen, amen, I say 
unto you. Before Abraham was made, I am." He had 
seen Abraham, who lived two thousand years before ; 
yet in truth He was not two thousand years old, 
more than He was fifty. He was not two thousand 
years old, because He had no years ; He was the 
Ancient of Days, who never had beginning, and who 
never will have an end ; who is above and beyond 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 285 

time ; who is ever young, and ever is beginning, yet 
never has not been, and is as old as He is young, and 
was as old and as young when Abraham lived as when 
He came on earth in our flesh to atone for our sins. 
And hence He says, " Before Abraham was, I am" 
and not " I wa^ ; " because with Him there is no past 
or future. It cannot be properly said of Him, that 
He was, or that He will be, bat that He is ; He is 
always ; always the same, not older because He has 
lived two thousand years in addition, not younger 
because He has not lived them. 

My brethren, if we could get ourselves to enter into 
this high and sacred thought, if we really contemplated 
the Almighty in Himself, then we should understand 
better what His incarnation is to us, and what it is 
in Him. I do not mean, if we worthily contemplated 
Him as He is; but, even if we contemplated Him 
in such a way as is really possible to us, if we did but 
fix our thoughts on Him, and make use of the reason 
which He has given us, we should understand enough 
of His greatness to feel the awfulness of His volun- 
tary self-abasement. Attend, then, while I recall to 
your mind the doctrines which reason and revelation 
combine to teach you about the Most High, and, 
next, when you have fixed your mind upon His 
infinity, then go on to view, in the light of that 
infinity, the meaning of His incarnation. 

Now first consider that reason teaches you there 
must be a God ; else how was this all-wonderful 
universe made ? It could not make itself ; man 
could not make it, he is but a part of it ; each man 



286 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

has a beginning, there must have been a first man 
and who made him ? To the thought of God then 
we are forced from the nature of the case ; we must 
admit the idea of an Almighty Creator, and that 
Creator must have been from everlasting. He must 
have had no beginning, else how came He to be ? 
Else, we should be in our original difficulty, and must 
begin our argument over again. The Creator, I say, 
had no beginning ; for, if He was brought into being 
by another before Him, then how came that other to 
be ? And so we shall proceed in an unprofitable 
series or catalogue of creators, which is as difficult to 
conceive as an endless line of men. Besides, if it 
was not the Creator Himself who was from everlastinj^, 
then there would be one being who was from everlast- 
ing, and another who was Creator ; which is all one 
with saying there are two Gods. It is least trial then 
to our reason, it is simplest and most natural, to pro- 
nounce, that the Creator of the world had no begin- 
ning ; — and if so, He is self-existing ; and if so. He 
can undergo no change. What is self-existing and 
everlasting has no growth or decay; It is what It 
€ver was, and ever shall be the same. As It originated 
in nothing else, nothing else can interfere with It or 
affect It. Besides, everything that is has originated 
in It ; everything therefore is dependent on It, and 
It is independently of everything. 

Contemplate then the Supreme Being, the Being 
of beings, even so far as I have yet described Him ; 
fix the idea of Him in your minds. He is one ; He 
has no rival; He has no equal; He is unlike anything 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension, i^y 

else; He is sovereign; He can do what He will. 
He is unchangeable from first to last; He is all- 
perfect; He is infinite in His power and in His 
wisdom, or He could not have made this immense 
world which we see by day and by night. 

Next, this follows from what I have said ; — that, 
since He is from everlasting, and has created all 
things from a certain beginning, He has lived in an 
eternity before He began to create anything. What a 
wonderful thought is this ! there was a state of things 
in which God was by Himself, and nothing else but 
He. There was no earth, no sky, no sun, no stars, 
no space, no time, no beings of any kind ; no men, 
no Angels, no Seraphim. His throne was without 
ministers; He was not waited on by any; all was 
silence, all was repose, there was nothing but God ; 
and this state continued, not for a while only, but 
for a measureless duration ; it was a state which had 
ever been ; it was the rule of things, and creation 
has been an innovation upon it. Creation is, com- 
paratively speaking, but of yesterday ; it has lasted 
a poor six thousand years, say sixty thousand, if you 
will, or six million, or six million million ; what is 
this to eternity ? nothing at all ; not so much as a 
drop compared to the whole ocean, or a grain of sand 
to the whole earth. I say, through a whole eternity 
God was by Himself, with no other being but Himself; 
with nothing external to Himself, not working, but at 
rest, not speaking, not receiving homage from any, 
not glorified in creatures, but blessed in Himself and 
by Himself, and wanting nothing. 



288 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

What an idea this gives us of the Almighty ! He 
is above us, my brethren, we feel He is ; how little can 
we understand Him ! We fall in even with men upon 
earth, whose ways are so different from our own, that 
we cannot understand them ; we marvel at them ; they 
pursue courses so unlike ours, they take recreations so 
peculiar to themselves, that we despair of finding any- 
thing in common between them and us ; we can- 
not make conversation when we are with them. Thus 
stirring and ambitious men wonder at those who live 
among books ; sinners wonder at those who attend 
the Sacraments and mortify their passions ; thrifty 
persons wonder at those who are lavish of their money; 
men who love society wonder at those who live 
in solitude and are happy in it. "We cannot enter 
even into our fellows ; we call them strange and 
incomprehensible ; but what are they, compared with 
the all-marvellousness of the Everlasting God ? He 
alone indeed is incomprehensible, who has not only 
lived an eternity without beginning, but who has 
lived through a whole eternity by Himself, and has 
not wearied of the solitude. Which of us, or how 
few of us, could live a week in comfort by ourselves ? 
You have heard, my brethren, of solitary confinement 
as a punishment assigned to criminals, and at length 
it becomes more severe than any other punishment : 
it is said at length to drive men mad. We cannot 
live without objects, without aims, without employ- 
ments, without companions. We cannot live simply 
in ourselves ; the mind preys upon itself, if left to 
itself. This is the case with us mortal men; now 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 289 

raise your minds to God. Oh, the vast contrast ! He 
lived a whole eternity in that state, of which a few poor 
years to us is madness. He lived a whole eternity 
without change of any kind. Day and night, sleep 
and meal-time, at least are changes, unavoidable 
changes, in the life of the most solitary upon earth. 
A prison, if it has nothing else to relieve its dreariness 
and its hopelessness, has at least this, that the poor 
prisoner sleeps ; he sleeps, and suspends his misery ; 
he sleeps and recruits his power of bearing it ; but 
the Eternal is the Sleepless, He pauses not, He sus- 
pends not His powers. He is never tired of Himself ; 
He is never wearied of His own infinity. He was 
from eternity ever in action, though ever at rest; 
ever surely in rest and peace profound and ineffable, 
yet with a living, present mind, self-possessed, and 
all-conscious, comprehending Himself and sustaining 
the comprehension. He rested ever, but He rested 
in Himself ; His own resource, His own end. His 
own contemplation, His own blessedness. 

Yes, so it was ; and if it is incomprehensible that 
He should have existed solitary through an eternity, 
is it not incomprehensible too, that He should have 
ever given up that solitariness, and have willed to sur- 
round Himself with creatures ? Why was He not con- 
tent to be as He had been ? Why did He bring into 
existence those who could not add to His blessedness 
and were not secure of their own ? Why did He give 
them that gift which we see they possess, of doing 
right or wrong as they please, and of working out 
their ruin as well as their salvation ? Why did He 

19 



290 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

create a world like that which is before our eyes, 
which at best so dimly shows forth His glory, and at 
worst is a scene of sin and sorrow ? He might have 
made a far more excellent world than this ; He might 
have excluded sin; but, oh wonderful mystery. He has 
surrounded HimseK with the cries of fallen souls, and 
has created and opened the great pit. He has willed, 
after an eternity of peace, to allow of everlasting 
anarchy, of pride, and blasphemy, and guilt and 
hatred of Himself, and the worm that dieth not. 
Thus He is simply incomprehensible to us, mortal 
men. "Well might the ancient heathen shrink from 
answering, when a king, his patron, asked him what 
God was ! He begged for a day to consider his reply ; 
at the end of it, for two more ; and, when the two were 
ended, for four besides; for in truth he found that 
meditation, instead of bringing him towards the solu- 
tion of the problem, did but drive him back ; the more 
he questioned, the vaster grew the theme, and where 
he drew one conclusion, thence issued forth a hundred 
fresh difficulties to confound his reason. For in truth 
the being and attributes of God are a subject, not for 
reason simply, but for faith also ; and we must accept 
His own word about Himself. 

And now proceed to another thought, my brethren, 
which I have partly implied and partly expressed 
already. If the Almighty Creator be such as I have 
described Him, He in nowise depends on His creatures. 
They sin, they perish, they are saved, they praise Him 
eternally ; but, though He loves all the creatures of 
His hand, though He visits all of them without ex- 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 291 

ceptioii with influences of His grace, so numerous and 
so urgent, that not till the disclosures of the last day- 
shall we rightly conceive of them ; though He deigns 
to be glorified in His Saints, though He is their all in 
all, their continued life, and power, and blessedness, 
still they are nothing to Him. They do not increase 
His happiness if they are saved, or diminish it if they 
are lost. I do not mean that He is at a distance from 
them ; He does not so live in Himself as to abandon His 
creation to the operation of laws which He has stamped 
upon it. No ; He is everywhere a vigilant and active 
Providence ; He is in every one of His creatures, and 
in every one of their actions ; if He were not in them, 
they would fall back into nothing. He is everywhere 
on earth, and sees every crime committed, whether 
under the sun or in the gloom of night ; He is even 
the sustaining power of those who sin ; He is most 
close to every the most polluted soul ; He is in the 
midst of the eternal prison ; but what I mean to say 
is, that nothing touches Him, though He touches all 
things. The sun's rays penetrate into the most hideous 
recesses, yet keep their brightness and their perfection; 
and so the Almighty witnesses and suffers evil, yet 
is not touched or tried by the creature's wilfulness, 
pride, uncleanness, or unbelief. The lusts of earth 
and the blasphemies of hell neither sully His purity 
nor impair His majesty. If the whole world were to 
plunge wilfully into the eternal gulf, the loss would be 
theirs, not His. In the dread contest between good 
and evil, whether the Church conquers at once, or is 
oppressed for the time, and labours, whether she is 



292 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

in persecution, or in triumph, or in peace, whether 
His enemies hold out or are routed, when the innocent 
sin, when the just are falling, when good Angels weep, 
when souls are hardened, He is one and the same. He 
is in His blessedness still, and not even the surface is 
ruffled of His everlasting rest. He neither hopes nor 
fears, nor desires, nor sorrows, nor repents. All 
around Him seems full of agitation and confusion, 
but in His eternal decrees and infallible foreknow- 
ledge there is nothing contingent, nothing uncer- 
tain, nothing which is not part of one vast plan, as 
fixed in its issue, and as unchangeable, as His own 
Essence. 

Such is the great God, so all-suf&cient, so all- 
blessed, so separate from creatures, so inscrutable, so 
unapproachable. Who can see Him ? who can fathom 
Him ? who can move Him ? who can change Him ? 
who can even speak of Him ? He is all-holy, all- 
patient, all-peaceful, and all-true. He says and He 
does ; He delays and He executes ; He warns and He 
punishes ; He punishes, He rewards, He forbears. He 
pardons, according to an eternal decree, without im- 
perfection, without vacillation, without inconsistency. 

And now that I have set before you, my brethren, 
in human language, some of the attributes of the 
Adorable God, perhaps you are tempted to complain 
that, instead of winning you to the All-glorious and 
All-good, I have but repelled you from Him. You are 
tempted to exclaim, — He is so far above us that the 
thought of Him does but frighten me ; I cannot be- 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 293 

lieve that He cares for me. I believe firmly that He 
is infinite perfection ; and I love that perfection, not 
so much indeed as I could wish, still in my measure 
I love it for its own sake, and I wish to love it above 
all things, and I well understand that there is no 
creature but must love it in his measure, unless he 
has fallen from grace. But there are two feelings, 
which, alas, I have a difficulty in entertaining; I 
believe and I love, but without fervour, without keen- 
ness, because my heart is not kindled by hope, nor 
subdued and melted with gratitude. Hope and grati- 
tude I wish to have, and have not ; I know that He is 
loving towards all His works, but how am I to believe 
that He gives to me personally a thought, and cares 
for me for my own sake ? I am beneath His love ; He 
looks on me as an atom in a vast universe. He acts 
by general laws, and, if He is kind to me, it is, not 
for my sake, but because it is according to His 
nature to be kind. And hence it is that I am drawn 
over to sinful man with an intenser affection than to 
my glorious Maker. Kings and great men upon earth, 
when they appear in public, are not content with a 
mere display of their splendour, they show themselves 
as well as their glories; they look around them; they 
notice individuals ; they have a kind eye, or a cour- 
teous gesture, or an open hand, for all who come near 
them. They scatter among the crowd the largess of 
their smiles and of their words. And then men go 
home, and tell their friends, and treasure up to their 
latest day, how that so great a personage took notice 
of them or of a child of theirs, or accepted a present 



294 ^^^^ Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

at their hand, or gave expression to some sentiment, 
without point in itself, but precious as addressed to 
them. Thus does my fellow-man engage and win me; 
but there is a gulf between me and my great God. I 
shall fall back on myself, and grovel in my nothing- 
ness, till He looks down from heaven, till He calls me, 
till He takes interest in me. It is a want in my 
nature to have one who can weep with nie, and rejoice 
with me, and in a way minister to me ; and this would 
be presumption in me, and worse, to hope to find in 
the Infinite and Eternal God. 

This is what you may be tempted to say, my bre- 
thren, not without impatience, while you contemplate 
the Almighty God, as conscience portrays Him, and 
as reason concludes about Him, and as creation wit- 
nesses of Him ; and I have dwelt on it, in order, by 
way of contrast, to set before you, as I proposed when 
I began, how your complaint is answered in the great 
mystery of the Incarnation. Never suppose that you 
are left by God ; never suppose that He does not know 
you, your minds and your powers, better than you do 
yourselves. Ought you not to trust Him, that, if your 
complaint be true, He has thought of it before you ? 
" Before they call, I will attend," says He, " and 
while they speak, I will hear." Add this to your 
general notion of His incomprehensibility, viz., that 
though He is infinite. He can bow Himself to the 
finite ; have faith in the mystery of His condescen- 
sion ; confess that, though He " inhabiteth eternity," 
He "dwelleth with a contrite and humble spirit," 
and " looketh down upon the lowly." Give up this 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. igS 

fretfulness, quit these self-consuming thoughts, go 
out of yourselves, lift up your eyes, look around, and 
see if you can discern nothing more hopeful, more 
gracious in this wide world, than these perplexities 
over which you have been brooding. N"o, my brethren, 
we are so constituted by our Maker, as to be able to 
love Him ardently, and He has given us means of 
doing so. He has not founded our worship of Him in 
hope, nor made self-interest the measure of our vene- 
ration. And we have eyes to see much more than the 
difficulties of His Essence ; and the great consolatory 
disclosures of Him, which nature begins, Eevelation 
brings to perfection. Lift up your eyes, I say, and 
look out even upon the material world, and there you 
will see one attribute above others on its very face 
which will reverse your sad meditations on Him who 
made it. He has traced out many of His attributes 
upon it. His immensity, His wisdom. His power, His 
loving-kindness, and His skill ; but more than all, its 
very face is illuminated with the glory and beauty of 
His eternal excellence. This is that attribute in which 
all His attributes coalesce, which is the perfection, or 
(as I may say) the flower and bloom of their combina- 
tion. As among men, youth, and health, and vigour, 
have their finish in that grace of outline, and lustre 
of complexion, and eloquence of expression, which we 
call beauty, so in the Almighty God though we can- 
not comprehend His holy attributes, and shrink from 
their unfathomable profound, yet we can, as creatures, 
recognize and rejoice in the brightness, harm9ny, and 
serenity, which is their resulting excellence. This is 



296 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

that quality which, by the law of our nature, is ever 
able to draw us off ourselves in admiration, which 
moves our affections, which wins from us a disinte- 
rested homage; and it is shed in profusion, in token 
of its Creator, over the visible world. 

Leave, then, the prison of your own reasonings, leave 
the town, the work of man, the haunt of sin ; go forth, 
my brethren, far from the tents of Cedar and the slime 
of Babylon : with the patriarch go forth to meditate 
in the field, and from the splendours of the work 
imagine the unimaginable glory of the Architect. 
Mount some bold eminence, and look back, when the 
sun is high and full upon the earth, when mountains, 
cliffs, and sea, rise up before you like a brilliant 
pageant. Math outlines noble and graceful, and tints 
and shadows soft, clear, and harmonious, giving depth 
and unity to the whole; and then go through the 
forest, or fruitful field, or along meadow and stream* 
and listen to the distant country sounds, and drink in 
the fragrant air which is poured around you in spring 
or summer; or go among the gardens, and delight 
your senses with the grace and splendour, and the 
various sweetness of the flowers you find there ; then 
think of the almost mysterious influence upon the 
mind of particular scents, or the emotion which some 
gentle, peaceful strain excites in us, or how soul and 
body are rapt and carried away captive by the concord 
of musical sounds, when the ear is open to their 
power ; and then, when you have ranged through 
sights, and sounds, and odours, and your heart kindles, 
and your voice is full of praise and worship, reflect, — 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 297 

not that they tell you nothing of their Maker, — but that 
they are the poorest and dimmest glimmerings of His 
glory, and the very refuse of His exuberant riches, and 
but the dusky smoke which precedes the flame, com- 
pared with Him who made them. Such is the Creator 
in His Eternal Uncreated Beauty, that, were it given 
to us to behold it, we should die of very rapture at the 
sight. Moses, unable to forget the token of it he had 
once seen in the Bush, asked to see it fully, and on 
this very account was refused. " He said. Show me 
Thy glory ; and He said, Thou canst not see My Face ; 
for man shall not see Me and live." When Saints 
have been favoured with glimpses of it, it has thrown 
them into ecstasy, broken their poor frames of dust and 
ashes, and pierced them through with such keen distress, 
that they have cried out to God, in the very midst of 
their transports, that He would hold His hand, and, 
in tenderness to them, check the abundance of His 
consolations. What Saints partake in fact, we enjoy 
in thought and imagination ; and even that mere re- 
flection of God's glory is sufficient to sweep away the 
gloomy, envious thoughts of Him, which circle round 
us, and to lead us to forget ourselves in the contem- 
plation of the All-beautiful. He is so bright, so 
majestic, so serene, so harmonious, so pure ; He so 
surpasses, as being its archetype and fulness, all that 
is graceful, gentle, sweet, and fair on earth ; His voice 
is so touching, and His smile so winning while so 
awful, that we need nothing more than to gaze and 
listen, and be happy. Say not this is not enough for 
love and joy ; even in sights of this earth, the pomp 



298 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

and ceremonial of royalty is sufficient for the beholder; 
he needs nothing more than to be allowed to see ; and 
were we but admitted to the courts of heaven, the 
sight of Him, ever transporting, ever new, though 
He addressed us not, would be our meat and drink 
to all eternity. 

And if He has so constituted us, that, in spite of 
the abyss which lies between Him and us, in spite of 
the mystery of His attributes and the feebleness of 
our reason, the very vision of Him dispels all doubt, 
allures our shrinking souls, and is our everlasting joy, 
what shall we say, my brethren, when we are told that 
He has also condescended to take possession of us and 
to rule us by means of hope and gratitude, those 
"cords of Adam," by which one man is bound to 
another ? You say that God and man never can be 
one, that man cannot bear the sight and touch of his 
Creator, nor the Creator condescend to the feebleness 
of the creature ; but blush and be confounded to hear, 
peevish, restless hearts, that He has come down 
from His high throne and humbled Himself to the 
creature, in order that the creature might be inspired 
and strengthened to rise to Him. It was not enough 
to give man grace ; it was little to impart to him a 
celestial light, and a sanctity such as Angels had re- 
ceived ; little to create Adam in original justice, with a 
heavenly nature superadded to his own, with an intel- 
lect which could know God and a soul which could 
love Him ; He purposed even in man's first state of 
innocence a higher mercy, which in the fulness of time 
was to be accomplished in his behalf. It became the 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 299 

Wisdom of God, who is the eternally glorious and 
beautiful, to impress these attributes upon men by 
His very presence and personal indwelling in their 
flesh, that, as He was by nature the Only-begotten 
Image of the Father, so He might also become " the 
First-born of every creature." It became Him who is 
higher than the highest, to act as if even humility, 
if this dare be said, was in the number of His attributes, 
by taking Adam's nature upon Himself, and manifest- 
ing Himself to men and Angels in it. It became Him, 
of whom are all things, and who is in all things, not 
to create new natures, which had not been before, in- 
constant spirit and corruptible matter, without taking 
them to Himself and absorbing them into a personal 
union with God. And see, my brethren, when you 
complain that we men are cut off from God, see that 
He has done more for you than He has done for those 
" who are greater in strength and power." The 
Angels surpass us in their original nature ; they are 
immortal spirits, and we are subject to death ; they 
have been visited by larger measures of God's grace, 
and they serve in His heaven, and are blessed by the 
vision of His face ; yet " He took not on Him the 
care of Angels ; " He turned aside from the eldest- 
born of creation, He chose the younger. He chose 
him in wliom an immortal spirit was united to a frail 
and perishable body. He turned aside to him whom an 
irritable, wayward, dim-sighted, and passionate nature 
rendered less worthy of His love ; to him He turned ; 
He made "the first last, and the last first;" " He raised 
the needy from the earth, and lifted the poor out of the 



300 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

mire," and bade Angels bow down in adoration to a 
material form, for it was His own. 

Well, my brethren, your God has taken on Him 
your nature, and now prepare yourself to see in 
human flesh that glory and that beauty on which the 
Angels gaze. Since you are to see Emmanuel, since 
" the brilliancy of the Eternal Light and the unspotted 
mirror of God's majesty, and the Image of His good- 
ness," is to walk the earth, since the Son of the 
Highest is to be born of woman, since the manifold 
attributes of the Infinite are to be poured out before 
your eyes through material channels and the opera- 
tions of a human soul, since He, whose contemplation 
did but trouble you in nature, is coming to take you 
captive by a manifestation, which is both intelligible 
to you and a pledge that He loves you one by one, 
raise high your expectations, for surely they cannot 
suffer disappointment. Doubtless, you will say. He 
will take a form such as " eye hath not seen, nor ear 
heard of " before. It will be a body framed in the 
heavens, and only committed to the custody of Mary ; 
a form of light and glory, worthy of Him, who is 
" blessed for evermore " and comes to bless us with 
His presence. Pomp and pride of men He may 
indeed despise; we do not look for Him in kings' 
courts, or in the array of war, or in the philosophic 
school; but doubtless He will choose some calm and 
holy spot, and men will go out thither and find their 
Incarnate God. He will be tenant of some paradise, 
like Adam or Elias, or He will dwell in the mystic 
garden of the Canticles, where nature ministers its 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension, 301 

best and purest to its Creator. "The fig-tree will 
put forth her green figs, the vines in flower yield their 
sweet smell ; " " spikenard and saffron " will be there ; 
" the sweet cane and cinnamon, myrrh and aloes, with 
all the chief perfumes ; " " the glory of Libanus, the 
beauty of Carmel," before " the glory of the Lord and 
the beauty of our God." There will He show Himself 
at stated times, with Angels for His Choristers and 
Saints for His doorkeepers, to the poor and needy, to 
the humble and devout, to those who have kept their 
innocence undefiled, or have purged their sins away by 
long penance and masterful contrition. 

Such would be the conjecture of man, at fault when 
he speculated on the height of God, and now again at 
fault when he tries to sound the depth. He thinks 
that a royal glory is the note of His presence upon 
earth ; — lift up your eyes, my brethren, and answer 
whether he has guessed aright. Oh, incomprehensible 
in eternity and in time ! solitary in heaven, and soli- 
tary upon earth ! " Who is This, that cometh from 
Edom, with dyed garments from Bozra ? Why is Thy 
cloak red, and Thy garments like theirs that tread in the 
wine fat ? " It is because the Maker of man, the Wis- 
dom of God, has come, not in strength, but in weakness. 
He has come, not to assert a claim, but to pay a 
debt. Instead of wealth, He has come poor; instead of 
honour. He has come in ignominy ; instead of blessed- 
ness, He has come to suffer. He has been delivered 
over from His birth to pain and contempt ; His deli- 
cate frame is worn down by cold and heat, by hunger 
and sleeplessness; His hands are rough and bruised with 



302 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

a mechanic's toil ; His eyes are dimmed with weepinp;; 
His Name is cast out as evil. He is flung amid the 
throng of men ; He wanders from place to place ; He 
is the companion of sinners. He is followed by a 
mixed multitude, who care more for meat and drink 
than for His teaching, or by a city's populace which 
deserts Him in the day of trial. And at length " the 
Brightness of God's Glory and the Image of His 
Substance" is fettered, haled to and fro, buffeted, 
spit upon, mocked, cursed, scourged, and tortured. 
*' He hath no beauty nor comeliness ; He is despised 
and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and 
acquainted with infirmity ; " nay, He is a " leper, and 
smitten of God, and humbled." And so His clothes 
are torn off, and He is lifted up upon the bitter Cross, 
and there He hangs, a spectacle for profane, impure, 
and savage eyes, and a mockery for the evil spirit 
whom He had cast down into hell. 

Oh wayward man ! discontented first that thy God 
is far from thee, discontented again when He has 
drawn near, — complaining first that He is high, com- 
plaining next that He is low !— unhumbled being, 
when wilt thou cease to make thyself thine own 
•centre, and learn that God is infinite in all He does, 
infinite when He reigns in heaven, infinite when He 
serves on earth, exacting our homage in the midst of 
His Angels, and winning homage from us in the 
midst of sinners? Adorable He is in His eternal 
rest, adorable in thd glory of His court, adorable in 
the beauty of His works, most adorable of all, most 
royal, most persuasive in His deformity. Think you 



The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 303 

not, my brethren, that to Mary, when she held Him 
in her maternal arms, when she gazed on the pale 
countenance and the dislocated limbs of her God, 
when she traced the wandering lines of blood, when 
she counted the weals, the bruises, and the wounds, 
which dishonoured that virginal flesh, think you not 
that to her eyes it was more beautiful than when she 
first worshipped it, pure, radiant, and fragrant, on 
the night of His nativity ? Dilectiis metis candidus 
et ruUcundiLs, as the Church sings ; " My beloved is 
white and ruddy; His whole form doth breathe of 
love, and doth provoke to love in turn ; His drooping 
head, His open palms, and His breast all bare. My 
beloved is white and ruddy, choice out of thousands ; 
His head is of the finest gold ; His locks are branches 
of palm-trees, black as a raven. His eyes as doves 
upon brooks of waters, which are washed with milk, 
and sit beside the plentiful streams. His cheeks are 
as beds of spices set by the perfumers ; His lips are 
lilies dropping choice myrrh. His hands are turned 
and golden, full of jacinths ; His throat is most sweet, 
and He is all lovely. Such is my beloved, and He is 
my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem." 

So is it, dear and gracious Lord ; " the day of 
death is better than the day of birth, and better is 
the house of mourning than the house of feasting." 
Better for me that Thou shouldst come thus abject 
and dishonourable, than hadst Thou put on a body 
fair as Adam's when he came out of Thy Hand. Thy 
• glory sullied. Thy beauty marred, those five wounds 
welling out blood, those temples torn and raw, that 



304 The Mystery of Divine Condescension. 

broken heart, that crushed and livid frame, they teach 
me more, than wert Thou Solomon " in the diadem 
wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his 
heart's joy." The gentle and tender expression of 
that Countenance is no new beauty, or created grace; 
it is but the manifestation, in a human form, of 
Attributes which have been from everlasting. Thou 
canst not change, Jesu; and, as Thou art still 
Mystery, so wast Thou always Love. I cannot com- 
prehend Thee more than I did, before I saw Thee on 
the Cross; but I have gained my lesson. I have 
before me the proof, that in spite of Thy awful nature, 
and the clouds and darkness which surround it. Thou 
canst think of me with a personal affection. Thou hast 
died, that I might live. " Let us love God," says Thy 
Apostle, " because He first hath loved us." I can love 
Thee now from first to last, though from first to last 
I cannot understand Thee. As I adore Thee, Lover 
of souls, in Thy humiliation, so will I admire Thee and 
embrace Thee in Thy infinite and everlasting power. 



DISCOURSE XV. 

THE INFINITUDE OF THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES. 

TX/^E all know well, aud firmly hold, that our Lord 
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross 
in satisfaction for our sins. This truth is the great 
foundation of all our hopes, and the object of our most 
earnest faith and most loving worship. And yet, how- 
ever well we know it, it is a subject which admits of 
dm wing out, and insisting on in detail, in a way which 
most persons will feel profitable to themselves. I 
shall now attempt to do this in some measure, and to 
follow the reflections to which it leads ; though at 
this season* many words would be out of place. 

Christ died for our sins, for the sins of the whole 
world ; but He need not have died, for the Almighty 
God might have saved us all, might have saved the 
whole world, without His dying. He might have par- 
doned and brought to heaven every individual child of 
Adam without the incarnation and death of His Son. 
He might have saved us without any ransom and -with- 
out any delay. He might have abolished original 
sin, and restored Adam at once. His word had been 
enough ; with Him to say is to do. " All things are 

* Passion-tide. 

20 



3o6 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

possible to Thee," was the very reason our Lord gave 
in His agony for asking that the chalice might pass 
from Him. As in the beginning He said, " Let light 
be, and light was ; " so might He have spoken again, 
and sin would have vanished from the soul, and 
guilt with it. Or He might have employed a me- 
diator less powerful than His own Son ; He might 
have accepted the imperfect satisfaction of some mere 
man. He wants not for resources; but He willed 
otherwise. He who ever does the best, saw in His 
infinite wisdom that it was expedient and fitting to 
take a ransom. As He has not hindered the repro- 
bate from resisting His grace and rejecting redemp- 
tion, so He has not pardoned any who are to enter 
His eternal kingdom without a true and sufficient 
satisfaction for their sin. Both in the one case and 
the other. He has done, not what was possible merely, 
but what was best. And this is why the coming of 
the Word was necessary; for if a true satisfaction 
was to be made, then nothing could accomplish this 
short of the incarnation of the All-holy. 

You see, then, my brethren, how voluntary was the 
mission and death of our Lord ; if an instance can be 
imagined of voluntary sufiering, it is this. He came 
to die when He need not have died ; He died to satisfy 
for what might have been pardoned without satisfac- 
tion; He paid a price which need not have been asked, 
nay, which needed to be accepted * when paid. It may 
be said with truth, that, rigorously speaking, one 

* Dicendum videtur satisfactionem Christi, licet fuerit rigorosa 
quoad aei][ualitatein et condignitatem pretii soluti, non tamen fuisse 



The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 307 

being can never, by his own suffering, simply dis- 
charge the debt of another's sin.* Accordingly, He 
died, not in order to exert a peremptory claim on the 
divine justice, if I may so speak, — as if He were bar- 
gaining in the market-place, or pursuing a plea in a 
court of law ; — but in a more loving, generous, muni- 
ficent way, did He shed that blood, which was worth ten 
thousand lives of men, worth more than the blood of 
all the sons of Adam poured out together, in accord- 
ance with His Father's will, who, for wise reasons 
unrevealed, exacted it as the condition of their pardon, 
Nor was this all ; — one drop of His blood had been 
sufficient to satisfy for our sins; He might have 
offered His circumcision as an atonement, and it would 
have been sufficient; one moment of His agony of 
blood had been sufficient, one stroke of the scourge 
might have wrought a sufficient satisfaction. But 
neither circumcision, agony, nor scourging was our 
redemption, because He did not offer them as such. 

rigorosam quoad modum solutionis, sed indiguisse aliqua gratiA 
libera Dei. ... Si aliquis ita peccavit, ut juste puniatiir exUio 
unius mensis, et velit redimere pecunia illud exilium, offeratque 
summam sequivaleutem, immo excedentem, non dubium quin satis- 
fiat rigori justitiae vindicative, si attendas ad mensuram poenae ; 
non tamen satisfit, si atteudas ad modum ; si enim judex gratiose 
non admittat illam compensationem, jtis habct ex rigore justitiaa 
punitivse ad exigendum exilium, quantumvis alia sequalis et longfe 
major poena oflPeratur. — De Lug. Incarn. iii. 10. 

• Qui redemit captivum solveudo pretium, solvit quantum domino 
debetur ex justitia, solum enim debetiir illi pretium ex contractu 
et conventione inter ipsum et redemptorem. . . . Nidlum est justi- 
tia debitum cui non satisfiat per solutionem illius pretii. At vero 
pro injuria non solum debetur ex justitia satisfactio utcunque, sed 
exhibenda ab ipso cffensore. . . . sicut nee qui abstulit librum, 
satisfacit adaequate reddendo pretium sequivalens.— Ibid. iv. 2. 



3o8 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

The price He paid was nothing short of the whole 
treasure of His blood, poured forth to the last drop 
from His veins and sacred heart. He shed His whole 
life for us ; He left Himself empty of His all. He 
left His throne on high ; He gave up His home on 
earth ; He parted with His Mother, He gave His 
strength and His toil, He gave His body and soul, He 
offered up His passion, His crucifixion, and His death, 
that man should not be bought for nothing. This is 
what the Apostle intimates in saying that we are 
" bought with a great price ; " and the Prophet, while 
he declares that " with the Lord there is mercy, and 
with Him a copious " or " plenteous redemption." 

This is what I wished to draw out distinctly, my 
brethren, for your devout meditation. We might 
have been pardoned without the humiliation of the 
Eternal Word ; again, we might have been redeemed 
by one single drop of His blood ; but still on earth 
He came, and a death He died, a death of inconceivable 
suffering; and all this He did as a free offering 
to His Father, not as forcing His acceptance of it. 
From beginning to the end it was in the highest 
sense a voluntary work; and this is what is so 
overpowering to the mind in the thought of it. It 
is as if He delighted in having to suffer ; as if He 
wished to show all creatures, what would otherwise 
have seemed impossible, that the Creator could prac- 
tise, in the midst of His heavenly blessedness, the 
virtues of a creature, self-abasement and humility. 
It is, as if He wished, all-glorious as He was from 
all eternity, as a sort of addition (if we may so 



The Injinitude of the Divine Attributes. 309 

speak) to His perfections, to submit to a creature's 
condition in its most afflictive form. It is, if we 
may use human language, a prodigality of charity, 
or that heroic love of toil and hardship, which is 
poorly shadowed out in the romantic defenders of the 
innocent or the oppressed, whom we read of in history 
or in fable, who have gone about the earth, nobly 
exposing themselves to peril for any who asked their 
aid. 

Or, rather, and that is what I wish to insist upon, 
it suggests to us, as by a specimen, the infinitude 
of God. We all confess that He is infinite ; He has 
an infinite number of perfections, and He is infinite 
in each of them. This we shall confess at once ; but, 
we ask, what is infinity ? what is meant by saying 
He is infinite ? "We seem to wish to be told, as if we 
had nothing given us to throw light on the question. 
"Why, my brethren, we have much given us ; the out- 
ward exhibition of infinitude is mystery; and the 
mysteries of nature and of grace are nothing else 
than the mode in which His infinitude encounters 
us and is brought home to our minds. Men confess 
that He is infinite, yet they start and object, as soon 
as His infinitude comes in contact with their imagi- 
nation and acts upon their reason. They cannot bear 
the fulness, the suberabundance, the inexhaustible 
flowing forth, and " vehement rushing,"* and encom- 
passing flood of the divine attributes. They restrain 
and limit them to their own comprehension, they 
measure them by their own standard, they fashion 
* Tanquam advenientis spiritus veheraentia. 



3IO The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes, 

them by their own model : and when they discern 
aught of the unfathomable depth, the immensity, of 
any single excellence or perfection of tlie Divine 
Nature, His love, or His justice, or His power, they 
are at once offended, and turn away, and refuse to 
believe. 

Now, this instance of our Lord's humiliation is a 
case in point. What would be profusion and extra- 
vagance in man, is but suitable or necessary, if I may 
say so, in Him whose resources are illimitable. We 
read in history accounts of oriental munificence, 
which sound like fiction, and which would gain, not 
applause but contempt in Europe, where wealth is not 
concentrated, as in the east, upon a few out of a whole 
people. " Eoyal munificence " has become a proverb, 
from the idea that a king's treasures are such, as 
to make the giving of large presents and bounties, not 
allowable only, but appropriate in him. He, then, 
who is infinite, may be only doing what is best, and 
holiest, and wisest, in doing what to man seems 
infinitely to exceed the necessity ; for He cannot 
exceed His own powers or resources. Man has limited 
means and definite duties ; it would be waste in him 
to lavish a thousand pieces of gold on one poor man, 
when with the same he might have done substantial 
good to many ; but God is as rich, as He is profound and 
vast, as infinite, after He has done a work of infinite 
bounty, as before He set about it. " Knowest thou 
not," He says, or "hast thou not heard ? the Lord is 
the Everlasting God, who has created the ends of the 
earth; He shall not faint, nor weary; nor is there any 



The Injinitude of the Divine Attributes. 311 

searching out of His wisdom," He cannot do a small 
work ; He cannot act by halves ; He ever does whole 
works, great works. Had Christ been incarnate for 
one single soul, who ought to have been surprised ? 
who ought not to have praised and blessed Him for 
telling us in one instance, and by a specimen, what 
that love and bounty are, which fill the heavens ? and 
in like manner, when in fact He has taken flesh for 
those, who might have been saved without it, though 
more suitably to His glorious majesty with it, and 
moreover has shed His whole blood in satisfaction, 
when a drop might have sufficed, shall we think such 
teaching strange and hard to receive, and not rather 
consider it consistent .and merely consistent, with that 
great truth, which we all start with admitting, that 
He is infinite ? Surely it would be most irrational in 
us, to admit His infinitude in the general, and to 
reject the examples of it in particular ; to maintain 
that He is mystery, yet to deny that His acts can be 
mysterious. 

"We must not, then, bring in our economical theories, 
borrowed from the schools of the day, when we would 
reason about the Eternal God. The world is ever 
doing so, when it speaks of religion. It will not allow 
the miracles of the Saints, because it pretends that 
those wrought by the Apostles were sufficient for the 
purpose which miracles had, or ought forsooth to have, 
in view. I wonder how the world comes to admit that 
such multitudes of human beings are born and die in 
infancy ; or that a profusion of seeds is cast over the 
face of the earth, some of which fall by the way-side. 



3 1 2 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

some on the rock, some among thorns, and only a 
remnant on the good ground. How wasteful was that 
sower ! so thinks the world, but an Apostle cries out, 
" Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the 
knowledge of God! how incomprehensible are His 
judgments, and how unsearchable His ways ! " 

The world judges of God's condescension as it judges 
of His bounty. We know from Scripture that " the 
teaching of the Cross " was in the beginning '• foolish- 
ness" to it; grave thinking men scoffed at it as 
impossible, that God, who is so high, should humble 
Himself so low, and that One who died a malefactor's 
death should be worshipped on the very instrument of 
His punishment. Voluntary humiliation they did not 
understand then, nor do they now. They do not 
indeed express their repugnance to the doctrine so 
openly now, because what is called public opinion does 
not allow them ; but you see what they really think of 
Christ, by the tone which they adopt towards those 
who in their measure follow Him. Those who are 
partakers of His fulness, are called on, according as 
the gift is given them, whether by His ordinary sug- 
gestions or by particular inspiration, to imitate His 
pattern ; they are carried on to the sacrifice of self, 
and thus they come into collision with the maxims of 
the world. A voluntary or gratuitous mortification in 
one shape or another, voluntary chastity, voluntary 
poverty, voluntary obedience, vows of perfection, all 
this is the very point of contest between the world and 
the Church, the world hating it, and the Church 
counselling it. " Why cannot they stop with me ? " 



The Infinitude of tJie Divine Attribnies. 313 

says the world ; " why will they give up their station 
or position, when it is certain they might be saved 
where they are ? Here is a lady of birth ; she might 
be useful at home, she might marry well, she might 
be an ornament to society, she might give her coun- 
tenance to religious objects, and she has perversely left 
us all ; she has cut off her hair, and put on a coarse 
garment, and is washing the feet of the poor. There 
is a man of name and ability, who has thrown himself 
out of his sphere of influence and secular position, and 
he chooses a place where no one knows his worth ; and 
he is teaching little children their catechism." The 
world is touched with pity, and shame, and indignation 
at the sight, and moralizes over persons who act so 
unworthily of their birth or education, and are so cruel 
towards themselves. And worse still, "here is a Saint, 
and what must he do but practise eccentricities?" — as 
they really would be in others, though in him they 
are but the necessary antagonists to the temptations 
which otherwise would come on him from " the great- 
ness of the revelations," or are but tokens of the love 
with which he embraces the feet of his Eedeemer. 
And " here again is another, and she submits her flesh 
to penances shocking to think of, and wearies herself 
out in the search after misery, and all from some notion 
that she is assimilating her condition to the voluntary 
self-abasement of the Word." Alas, for the world ! 
which is simply forgetful that God is great in all He 
does, great in His sufferings, and that He makes 
Saints and holy men in their degree partakers of that 
'reatness. 



314 The Infinitude of the Divme Attributes. 

Here, too, is another instance in point. If there is 
one divine attribute rather than another, which forces 
itself upon the mind from the contemplation of the 
material world, it is the glory, harmony, and beauty 
of its Creator. This lies on the surface of the creation, 
like light on a countenance, and addresses itself to all. 
To few men indeed is it given to penetrate into the 
world's system and order so deeply, as to perceive, 
in addition, the wonderful skill and goodness of the 
Divine Artificer ; but the grace and loveliness which 
beam from the very face of the visible creation are 
cognizable by all, rich and poor, learned and ignorant. 
It is indeed so beautiful, that those same philosophers, 
who devote themselves to its investigation, come to 
love it idolatrously, and to think it too perfect for them 
to allow of its infringement or alteration, or to tolerate 
even that idea. Not looking up to the Infinite Creator, 
who could make a thousand fairer worlds, and who has 
made the fairest portion of this the most perishable, 
— blooming, as it does, to-day, and to-morrow burning 
in the oven, — loving, I say, the creature more than the 
Creator, they have taken on them in all ages to dis- 
believe the possibility of interruptions of physical order, 
and have denied the miracles of Eevelation, They have 
denied the miracles of Apostles and Prophets, on the 
ground of their marring and spoiling what is so perfect 
and harmonious, as if the visible world were some work 
of human art, too exquisite to be wantonly dashed on 
the ground. But He, my brethren, the Eternal Maker 
of time and space, of matter and sense, as if to pour 
contempt upon the forward and minute speculations of 



The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 315 

His ignorant creatures about His works and His will, 
in order to a fuller and richer harmony, and a higher 
and nobler order, confuses the laws of this physical 
universe and untunes the music of the spheres. Nay, 
He has done more, He has gone further still ; out of 
the infinitude of His greatness. He has defaced His 
own glory, and wounded and deformed His own beauty, 
— not indeed as it is in itself, for He is ever the same, 
transcendently perfect and unchangeable, but in the 
contemplation of His creatures, — by the unutterable 
condescension of His incarnation. 

Semetipsum exinanivit, "He made Himself void or 
empty," as the earth had been " void and empty " at 
the beginning; He seemed to be unbinding and 
letting loose the assemblage of attributes which made 
Him God, and to be destroying the idea which He 
Himself had implanted in our minds. The God of 
miracles did the most awful of signs and wonders, by 
revoking and contradicting, as it were, all His per- 
fections, though He remained the while one and the 
same. Omnipotence became an abject; the Life 
became a leper ; the first and only Fair came down 
to us with an " inglorious visage," and an " unsightly 
form," bleeding and (I may say) ghastly, lifted up 
in nakedness and stretched out in dislocation before 
the eyes of sinners. Not content with this. He per- 
petuates the history of His humiliation ; men of this 
world, when they fall into trouble, and then recover 
themselves, hide the memorials of it. They conceal 
their misfortunes in prospect, as long as they can; 
bear them perforce, when they fall into them ; and. 



3 1 6 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

when they have overcome them, affect to make light 
of them. Kings of the earth, when they have rid 
themselves of their temporary conquerors, and are 
reinstated on their thrones, put all things back into 
their former state, and remove from their palaces, 
council-rooms, and cities, whether statue or picture 
or inscription or edict, all which bears witness to the 
suspension of their power. Soldiers indeed boast of 
their scars, but it is because their foes were well- 
matched with them, and their conflicts were necessary, 
and the marks of what they have suffered is a proof 
of what they have done; but He, who oUatus est, 
quia voluit, who " was offered, for He willed it," who 
exposed Himself to the powers of evil, yet could have 
saved us without that exposure, who was neither weak 
in that He was overcome, nor strong in that He 
overcame, proclaims to the whole world what He has 
gone through, without the tyrant's shame, without 
the soldier's pride; — He (wonderful it is) has raised 
up on high, He has planted over the earth, the 
memorial, that that Evil One whom He cast out of 
heaven in the beginning, has in the hour of darkness 
inflicted agony upon Him. For in truth, by con- 
sequence of the infinitude of His glory, He is more 
beautiful in His weakness than in His strength ; His 
wounds shine like stars of light; His very Cross 
becomes an object of worship ; the instruments of 
His passion, the nails and the thorny crown, are 
replete with miraculous power. And so He bids the 
commemoration of His Bloody Sacrifice to be made 
day by day all over the earth, and He himself is there 



The Infinittide of the Divme Attributes. 317 

in Person to quicken and sanctify it ; He rears His 
bitter but saving Cross in every Church and over 
every Altar; He shows Himself torn and bleeding 
upon the wood at the corners of each street and in 
every village market place ; He makes it the symbol 
of His r^igion ; He seals our foreheads, our lips, and 
our breast with this triumphant sign; with it He 
begins and ends our days, and with it He consigns 
us to the tomb. And when He comes again, that 
Sign of the Son of Man will be seen in heaven ; and 
when He takes His seat in judgment, the same 
glorious marks will be seen by all the world in His 
Hands, Feet, and Side, which were dug into them at 
the season of His degradation. Thus "hath King 
Solomon made Himself a litter of the wood of Libanus. 
The pillars thereof He made of silver, the seat of gold, 
the going up of purple ; the midst He covered with 
charity for the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, 
ye daughters of Sion ; and see King Solomon in the 
diadem, wherewith His mother crowned Him in the 
day of His espousals, and in the day of His heart's joy." 
I must not conclude this train of thought, without 
alluding to a sterner subject, on which it seems to 
throw some liorht. There is a class of doctrines 

O 

which to the natural man are an especial offence and 
difficulty; I mean those connected with the divine 
judgments. Why has the Almighty assigned an 
endless punishment to the impenitent sinner ? Why 
is it that vengeance has its hold on him when he 
passes out of this life, and there is no remedy ? Why, 
again, is it that even the beloved children of God, 



3 1 8 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

that holy souls who leave this life in His grace and 
in His favour, are not at once admitted to His face ; 
but, if there be an outstanding debt against them, 
first enter purgatory and liquidate it ? Men of the 
world shrink from a doctrine like this as impossible, 
and religious men answer that it is a mystery ; and a 
mystery it is, — that is, it is but another of those in- 
stances which Nature and Eevelation bring before us 
of the Divine Infinitude ; it is but one of the many 
overpowering manifestations of the Almighty, when 
He acts, which remind us, which are intended to 
remind us, that He is infinite, and above and beyond 
human measure and understanding, which lead us 
to bow the head and adore Him, as Moses did, when 
He passed by, and with him awfully to proclaim His 
Name, as " the Lord God, who hath dominion, keep- 
ing mercy for thousands, and returning the iniquity of 
the fathers upon the children and children's children 
to the third and fourth generation." 

Thus the attributes of God, though intelligible to 
us on their surface, — for from our own sense of mercy 
and holiness and patience and consistency, we have 
general notions of the All-merciful and All-holy and 
All-patient, and of all that is proper to His Essence, — 
yet, for the very reason that they are infinite, transcend 
our comprehension, when they are dwelt upon, when 
they are followed out, and can only be received by 
faith. They are dimly shadowed out, in this very 
respect, by the great agents which He has created in 
the material world. "What is so ordinary and familiar 
to us as the elements, what so simple and level to 



The Infinitude of the Divine Attribtttes. 319 

us, as their presence and operation ? yet how their 
character changes, and how they overmaster us, and 
triumph over us, when they come upon us in their 
fulness ! The invisible air, how gentle is it, and in- 
timately ours ! we breathe it momentarily, nor could 
we live without it ; it fans our cheek, and flows around 
us, and we move through it without effort, while it 
obediently recedes at every step we take, and obse- 
quiously pursues us as we go forward. Yet let it come 
in its power, and that same silent fluid, which was 
just now the servant of our necessity or caprice, takes 
us up on its wings with the invisible power of an 
Angel, and carries us forth into the regions of space, 
and flings us down headlong upon the earth. Or go 
to the spring, and draw thence at your pleasure, for 
your cup or your pitcher, in supply of your wants; you 
have a ready servant, a domestic ever at hand, in large 
quantity or in small, to satisfy your thirst or to purify 
you from the dust and mire of the world. But go 
from home, reach the coast: and you will see that 
same humble element transformed before your eyes. 
You were equal to it in its condescension, but who 
shall gaze without astonishment at its vast expanse in 
the bosom of the ocean ? who shall hear without awe 
the dashing of its mighty billows along the beach ? 
who shall without terror feel it heaving under him, 
and swelling and mounting up, and yawning wide, till 
he, its very sport and mockery, is thrown to and fro, 
hither and thither, at the mere mercy of a power which 
was just now his companion and almost his slave ? 
Or, again, approach the flame : it warms you, and it 



2,20 TJie Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

enlightens you ; yet approach not too near, presume 
not, or it will change its nature. That very element 
which is so beautiful to look at, so brilliant in its 
character, so graceful in its figure, so soft and lambent in 
its motion, will be found in its essence to be of a keen 
resistless nature ; it tortures, it consumes, it reduces to 
ashes that, of which it was just before the illumination 
and the life. So it is with the attributes of God; our 
knowledge of them serves us for our daily welfare ; 
they give us light and warmth and food and guidance 
and succour ; but go forth with Moses upon the mount 
and let the Lord pass by, or with Elias stand in the 
desert amid the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, 
and all is mystery and darkness ; all is but a whirling 
of the reason, and a dazzling of the imagination, and 
an overwhelming of the feelings, reminding us that 
we are but mortal men and He is God, and that the 
outlines which Nature draws for us are not His perfect 
image, nor to be pronounced inconsistent with those 
further lights and depths with which it is invested by 
Eevelation. 

Say not, my brethren, that these thoughts are too 
austere for this season, when we contemplate the self- 
sacrificing, self-consuming charity wherewith God our 
Saviour has visited us. It is for that very reason 
that I dwell on them ; the higher He is, and the more 
mysterious, so much the more glorious and the more 
subduing is the history of His humiliation. I own it, 
my brethren, I love to dwell on Him as the Only- 
begotten Word ; nor is it any forgetfulness of His 
saCred humanity to contemplate His Eternal Person. 



The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 321 

It is the very idea, that He is God, which gives a 
meaning to His sufferings ; what is to me a man, and 
nothing more, in agony, or scourged, or crucified ? 
there are many holy martyrs, and their torments were 
terrible. But here I see One dropping blood, gashed 
by the thong, and stretched upon the Cross, and He 
is God. It is no tale of human woe which I am read- 
ing here ; it is the record of the passion of the great 
Creator. The Word and Wisdom of the Father, who 
dwelt in His bosom in bhss ineffable from all eternity, 
whose very smile has shed radiance and grace over the 
whole creation, whose traces I see in the starry heavens 
and on the green earth, this glorious living God, it is 
He who looks at me so piteously, so tenderly from the 
Cross. He seems to say, — I cannot move, though I 
am omnipotent, for sin has bound Me here. I had had 
it in mind to come on earth among innocent creatures,* 
more fair and lovely than them aU, with a face more 

* "An ex vi prsesentis Decreti, an saltern ex vi alterius, Adamo 
non peccante, adhuc fiitnra fuisset Incarnatio, Thomistse, Vasquez, 
Amic, utrumque negant, piitautes Christnm nnice venisse ad nos 
redimendos. Contra Scotistse decent Redemptionem non fuisse nni- 
cum et adsequatum Incarnationis motivnm, sed etiam ipsam Christi 
excellentiam et exaltationem naturae humanai ; atque adeo, Adamo 
non peccante, Verbum incarnandum faisse .... ad exaltandam 
natiiram humanam innocentem. 

" Suarez vero docet, niotivum incarnationis esse nianifestationem 
divinse gloriae perfectissimo uiodo ; . . idcirco, Adamo peccante, 
Verbiim incarnatum fuit in carne passibili ad satisfaciendum ; 
Adamo vero non peccante Verbum incarnatum fuisset in carne 
impassibUi ad exaltandam naturam humanam innocentem. . . 

" Dico ex vi prsesentis Decreti, Adamo non peccante, Verbum 
fuisse incarnatum. . . Angelicus censet sententiam nostram proba- 
bilem, quamvis probabiliorem putet oppositam." — Viva Curs. 
Theclog. 

21 



32 2 The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes. 

radiant than the Seraphim, and a form as royal as that 
of Archangels, to be their equal yet their God, to fill 
them with My grace, to receive their worship, to enjoy 
their company, and to prepare them for the heaven to 
which I destined them ; but, before I carried my pur- 
pose into effect, they sinned, and lost their inheritance, 
and so I come indeed, but come, not in that brightness 
in which I went forth to create the morning stars and 
to fill the sons of God with melody, but in deformity 
and in shame, in sighs and tears, with blood upon My 
cheek, and with My limbs laid bare and rent. Gaze 
on Me, My children, if you will, for I am helpless ; 
gaze on your Maker, whether in contempt, or in faith 
and love. Here I wait, upon the Cross, the appointed 
time, the time of grace and mercy ; here I wait till 
the end of the world, silent and motionless, for the 
conversion of the sinful and the consolation of the 
just ; here I remain in weakness and shame, though 
I am so great in heaven, till the end, patiently ex- 
pecting My full catalogue of souls, who, when time 
is at length over, shall be the reward of My passion 
and the triumph of My grace to all eternity. 



DISCOURSE XVI. 

MENTAL SUFFERINGS OF OUR LORD IN HIS PASSION. 

Ti^VEEY passage in the history of our Lord and 
Saviour is of unfathomable depth, and affords 
inexhaustible matter of contemplation. All that con- 
cerns Him is infinite, and what we first discern is but 
the surface of that which begins and ends in eternity. 
It would be presumptuous for any one short of Saints 
and Doctors to attempt to comment on His words and 
deeds, except in the way of meditation; but meditation 
and mental prayer are so much a duty in all who wish 
to cherish true faith and love towards Him, that it 
may be allowed us, my brethren, under the guidance 
of holy men who have gone before us, to dwell and 
enlarge upon what otherwise would more fitly be 
adored than scrutinized. And certain times of the 
year, this especially,* call upon us to consider, as 
closely and minutely as we can, even the more sacred 
portions of the Gospel history. I would rather be 
thought feeble or officious in my treatment of them, 
than wanting to the Season ; and so I now proceed, 
because the religious usage of the Church requires it, 

* Passion-tide. 



324 Mental Sufferings of 

and though any individual preacher may well shrink 
from it, to direct your thoughts to a subject, especially 
suitable now, and about which many of us perhaps 
think very little, the sufferings which our Lord 
endured in His innocent and sinless _^soul. 

You know, my brethren, that our Lord and Saviour, 
though He was God, was also perfect man; and hence 
He had not only a body, but a soul likewise, such as 
ours, though pure from all stain of evil. He did not 
take a body without a soul, God forbid ! for that 
would not have been to become man. How would 
He have sanctified our nature by taking a nature 
which was not ours ? Man without_a ^ soul is on a 
level with the beasts of the field ; but our Lord came 
to save a race capable of praising and obeying Him, 
possessed of immortality, though that immortality 
had lost its promised blessedness. Man was created in 
the image of God, and that image is in his soul; when 
then his Maker, by an unspeakable condescension, 
came in his nature, He took on Himself a soul in 
order to take on Him a body; He took on Him a soul 
as the means of His union with a body ; He took on 
Him in the first place the soul, then the body of man, 
both at once, but in this order, the soul and the body; 
He Himself created the soul which He took on Himself, 
while He took His body from the flesh of the Blessed 
Virgin, His Mother. Thus He became perfect man 
with body and soul ; and, as He took on Hira a body 
of flesh and nerves, which admitted of wounds and 
death, and was capable of suffering, so did He take^ 
soul too, which was susceptible of that suffering, and 



otir Lord in His Passion. 325 

moreover was susceptible of the pain and sorrow 
which are proper to a human soul ; and, as Hts 
atoning passion was undergone in the body, so it 
was undergone in the soul also. 

As the solemn days proceed, we shall be especially 
called on, my brethren, to consider His sufferings in 
the body, His seizure. His forced journeyings to and 
fro. His blows and wounds, His scourging, the crown 
of thorns, the nails, the Cross. They are all summed 
up in the Crucifix itself, as it meets our eyes ; they 
are represented all at once on His sacred flesh, as it 
hangs up before us, — and meditation is made easy by 
the spectacle. It is otherwise with the sufferings of 
His soul, they cannot be painted for us, nor can they 
even be duly investigated: they are beyond both 
sense and thought ; and yet they anticipated His 
bodily sufferings. The agony, a pain of the soul, not 
of the body, was the first act of His tremendous 
sacrifice ; " My soul is sorrowful even unto death," 
He said ; nay ; if He suffered in the body, it really 
was in the soul, for the body did but convey the 
infliction on to that, which was the true recipient 
and seat of the sufiering. 

This it is very much to the purpose to insist upon; 
I say, it was not the body that suffered, but the soul 
in the body"; it was the soul and not the body which 
was the seat of the suffering of the Eternal Word. 
Consider, then, there is no real pain, though there 
may be apparent suffering, when there is no kind of 
inward sensibility or spirit to be the seat of it. A tree, 
for instance, has life, organs, growth, and decay ; it 



326 Mental Sufferings of 

may be wounded and injured ; it droops, and is killed ; 
but it does not suffer, because it has no mind or sen- 
sible principle within it. But wherever this gift of an 
immaterial principle is found, there pain is possible, 
and greater pain according to the quality of the gift. 
Had we no spirit of any kind, we should feel as little 
as a tree feels ; had we no soul, we should not feel 
pain more acutely than a brute feels it, but, being 
men, we feel pain in a way in which none but those 
who have souls can feel it. 

Living beings, I say, feel more or less according to 
tlie spirit which is in them ; brutes feel far less than 
man, because they cannot reflect on what they feel ; 
they have no advertence or direct consciousness of 
their sufferings. This it is that makes pain so trying, 
viz., that we cannot help thinking of it, while we suffer 
it. It is before us, it possesses the mind, it keeps 
our thoughts fixed upon it. Whatever draws the 
mind off the thought of it lessens it ; hence friends try 
to amuse us when we are in pain, for amusement is 
a diversion. If the pain is slight, they sometimes 
succeed with us ; and then we are, so to say, without 
pain, even while we suffer. And hence it continually 
happens that in violent exercise or labour, men meet 
with blows or cuts, so considerable and so durable in 
their effect, as to bear witness to the suffering which 
must have attended their infliction, of which never- 
theless they recollect nothing. And in quarrels and 
in battles wounds are received which, from the excite- 
ment of the moment, are brought home to the con- 
sciousness of the combatant, not by the pain at the 



our Lord in His Passion. 327 

time of receiving them, but by the loss of blood that 
follows. 

I will show you presently, my brethren, how I mean 
to apply what I have said to the consideration of our 
Lord's sufferings ; first I will make another remark. 
Consider, then, that hardly any one stroke of pain is 
intolerable ; it is intolerable when it continues. You 
cry out perhaps that you cannot bear more ; patients 
feel as if they could stop the surgeon's hand, simply 
because he continues to pain them. Their feeling is 
that they have borne as much as they can bear ; as if 
the continuance and not the intenseness was what 
made it too much for them. What does this mean, 
but that the memory of the foregoing moments of pain 
acts upon and (as it were) edges the pain that suc- 
ceeds ? If the third or fourth or twentieth moment of 
pain could be taken by itself, if the succession of the 
moments that preceded it could be forgotten, it 
would be no more than the first moment, as bearable 
as the first, (taking away the shock which accompanies 
the first) ; but what makes it unbearable is, that it 
is the twentieth ; that the first, the second, the third, 
on to the nineteenth moment of pain, are all concen- 
trated in the twentieth; so that every additional 
moment of pain has all the force, the ever-increasing 
force, of all that has preceded it. Hence, I repeat, 
it is that brute animals would seem to feel so little 
pain, because, that is, they have not the power of 
reflection or of consciousness. They do not know 
they exist ; they do not contemplate themselves ; they 
do not look backwards or forwards ; every moment as 



328 Mental Suffermgs of 

it succeeds, is their all ; they wander over the face of 
the earth, and see this thing and that, and feel pleasure 
and pain, but still they take everything as it comes, 
and then let it go again, as men do in dreams. They 
have memory, but not the memory of an intellectual 
being ; they put together nothing, they make nothing 
properly one and individual to themselves out of the 
particular sensations which they receive ; nothing is to 
them a reality or has a substance beyond those sensa- 
tions ; they are but sensible of a number of successive 
impressions. And hence^^as their other feelings, so 



their feelin g of pain is but faint an dH ull, in spite o f 

their outward manifestations ^of it. It is the intellec- 
tual comprehension of pain, as a whole diffused through 
successive moments, which gives it its special power 
and keenness, and it is the soul only, which a brute 
has not, which is capable of that comprehension. 

Now apply this to the sufferings of our Lord ; — do 
you recollect their offering Him wine mingled with 
myrrh, when He was on the point of being crucified ? 
He would not drink of it ; why ? because such a 
portion would have stupified His mind, and He was 
bent on bearing the pain in all its bitterness. You 
see from this, my brethren, the character of His 
sufferings ; He would have fain escaped them, had 
that been His Father's will ; " If it be possible," He 
said, " let this chalice pass from Me ; " but since it 
was not possible, He says calmly and decidedly to the 
Apostle, who would have rescued Him from suffering, 
" The chalice which my Father hath given Me, shall I 
not drink it ? " If He was to suffer, He gave Himself 



our Lord m His Passion. 329 

to suffering ; He did not come to suffer as little as He 
could ; He did not turn away His face from the suffer- 
ing ; He confronted it, or, as I may say. He breasted 
it, that every particular portion of it might make its 
due impression on Him. And as men are superior to 
brute animals, and are affected by pain more than 
they, by reason of the mind within them, which gives 
a substance to pain, such as it cannot have in the 
instance of brutes ; so, in like manner our Lord felt 
pain of the body, with an advertence and a conscious- 
ness, and therefore with a keenness and intensity, and 
with a unity of perception, which none of us can 
possibly fathom or compass, because His soul was so 
absolutely in His own power, so simply free from the 
influence of distractions, so fully directed ii'pon the 
pain, so utterly surrendered, so simply subjected to the 
suffering. And thus He may truly be said to have 
suffered the whole of His passion in every moment 
of it. 

Eecollect that our Blessed Lord was in this respect 
different from us, that, though He was perfect man, 
yet there was a power in Him greater than His soul, 
which ruled His soul, for He was God. The soul of 
other men is subjected to its own wishes, feelings, 
impulses, passions, perturbations ; His soul was sub- 
jected simply to His Eternal and Divine Personality. 
Nothing happened to His soul, by chance, or on a 
sudden ; He never was taken by surprise ; nothing 
affected Him without His willing beforehand that it 
should affect Him. Never did He sorrow, or fear, or 
desire, or rejoice in spirit, but He first willed to be 



330 Mental Sufferings of 

sorrowful, or afraid, or desirous, or joyful. When we 
suffer, it is because outward agents and the uncontrol- 
lable emotions of our minds bring suffering upon us. 
We are brought under the discipline of pain involun- 
tarily, we suffer from it more or less acutely according 
to accidental circumstances, we find our patience more 
or less tried by it according to our state of mind, and 
we do our best to provide alleviations or remedies of 
it. We cannot anticipate beforehand how much of it 
will come upon us, or how far we shall be able to 
sustain it ; nor can we say afterwards why we have 
felt just what we have felt, or why we did not bear 
the suffering better. It was otherwise with our Lord. 
His Divine Person was not subject, could not be ex- 
posed, to the influence of His own human affections 
and feelings, except so far as He chose. I repeat, 
when He chose to fear, He feared ; when He chose to 
be angry, He was angry ; when he chose to grieve^ 
He was grieved. He was not open to emotion, but 
He opened upon Himself voluntarily the impulse by 
which He was moved. Consequently, when He deter- 
mined to suffer the pain of His vicarious passion, 
whatever He did, He did, as the Wise Man says, 
instanter, " earnestly," with His might ; He did not 
do it by halves ; He did not turn away His mind from 
the suffering as we do ; — (how should He, who came 
to suffer, who could not have suffered but of His own 
act ?) no. He did not say and unsay, do and undo ; 
He said and He did ; He said, " Lo, I come to do 
Thy will, God ; sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest 
not, but a body hast Thou fitted to Me." He took a 



otir Lord in His Passion. 331 

body in order that He might suffer ; He became man, 
that He might suffer as man ; and when His hour was 
come, that hour of Satan and of darkness, the hour 
when sin was to pour its full malignity upon Him, it 
followed that He offered Himself wholly, a holocaust, 
a whole burnt-offering ; — as the whole of his body, 
stretched out upon the Cross, so the whole of His soul. 
His whole advertence, His whole consciousness, a 
mind awake, a sense acute, a living co-operation, a 
present, absolute intention, not a virtual permission, 
not a heartless submission, this did He present to His 
tormentors. His passion was an action ; He lived 
most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, 
and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the 
willj for He bowed His head, in command as well as 
in resignation, and said, " Father, into Thy hands I 
commend My Spirit ; " He gave the word, He sur- 
rendered His soul, He did not lose it. 

Thus you see, my brethren, had our Lord only 
suffered in the body, and in it not so much as other 
men, still as regards the pain, He would have really 
suffered indefinitely more, because pain is to be 
measured by the power of realizing it. God was the 
sufferer ; God suffered in His human nature ; the 
sufferings belonged to God, and were drunk up, were 
drained out to the bottom of the chalice, because God 
drank them ; not tasted or sipped, not flavoured, dis- 
guised by human medicaments, as man disposes of the 
cup of anguish. And what I have been saying will 
further serve to answer an objection, which I shall 
proceed to notice, and which perhaps exists latently 



332 Mental Sufferings of 

in the minds of many, and leads them to overlook the 
part which our Lord's soul had in His gracious satis- 
faction for sin. 

Our Lord said, when His agony was commencing, 
" My soul is sorrowful unto death ;. " now you may 
ask, my brethren, whether He had not certain con- 
solations, peculiar to Himself, impossible in any other, 
which diminished or impeded the distress of His soul, 
and caused Him to feel, not more, but less than an 
ordinary man. For instance. He had a sense of 
innocence which no other sufferer could have ; even 
His persecutors, even the false apostle who betrayed 
Him, the judge who sentenced Him, and the soldiers 
who conducted the execution, testified His innocence. 
" I have condemned the innocent blood," said Judas ; 
" I am clear from the blood of this just Person," said 
Pilate ; " Truly this was a just Man," cried the cen- 
turion. And if even they, sinners, bore witness to 
His sinlessness, how much more did His own soul ! 
and we know well that even in our own case, sinners 
as we are, on the consciousness of innocence or of 
guUt mainly turns our power of enduring opposition 
and calumny ; how much more, you will say, in the 
case of our Lord, did the sense of inward sanctity 
compensate for the suffering and annihilate the 
shame ! Again, you may say, that He knew that 
His sufferings would be short, and that their issue 
would be joyful, whereas uncertainty of the future is 
the keenest element of human distress ; but He could 
not have anxiety, for He was not in suspense, nor 
despondency or despair, for He never was deserted. 



our Lord in His Passion. 333 

And in confirmation you may refer to St. Paul who 
expressly tells us, that " for tlie joy set before Him,"^ 
our Lord " despised the shame." And certainly there 
is a marvellous calm and self-possession in all He does : 
consider His warning to the Apostles, " Watch and 
pray, lest ye enter into temptation ; the spirit indeed 
is willing, but the flesh is weak ; " or His words ta 
Judas, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" and 
" Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss ? " 
or to Peter, " All that take the sword, shall perish 
with the sword ; " or to the man who struck Him» 
" If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil ; but 
if well, why smitest thou Me ? " or to His Mother, 
" Woman, behold thy Son." 

All this is true and much to be insisted on ; but it 
quite agrees with, or rather illustrates, what I have 
been observing. My brethren, you have only said (to 
use a human phrase) that He was always Himself. 
His mind was its own centre^ and was never in the 
slightest degree thrown off its heavenly and most 
perfect balance. Wliat He suffered, He suffered be- 
cause He put Himself under suffering, and that de- 
liberately and calmly. As He said to the leper, " I 
will, be thou clean ; " and to the paralytic, " Thy sins 
be forgiven thee ; " and to the centurion, " I will come 
and heal him ; " and of Lazarus, " I go to wake him 
out of sleep ; " so He said, " Now I will begin ta 
suffer," and He did begin. His composure is but the 
proof how entirely He governed His own mind. He 
drew back, at the proper moment, the bolts and fasten- 
ings, and opened the gates, and the floods fell riglit 



334 Mental Sufferings of 

upon His soul in all their fulness. That is what St. 
Mark tells us of Him ; and he is said to have written 
his Gospel from the very mouth of St. Peter, who was 
one of three witnesses present at the time. " They 
came," he says, " to the place which is called Gethse- 
mani; and He saith to His disciples, Sit you here while 
I pray. And He taketh with Him Peter and James 
and John, and He "began to he frightened and to be 
very heavy." You see how deliberately He acts ; He 
comes to a certain spot ; and then, giving the word of 
command, and withdrawing the support of the God- 
head from His soul, distress, terror, and dejection at 
once rush in upon it. Thus He walks forth into a 
mental agony with as definite an action as if it were 
some bodily torture, the fire or the wheel. 

This being the case, you will see at once, my 
brethren, that it is nothing to the purpose to say that 
He would be supported under His trial by the con- 
sciousness of innocence and the anticipation of tri- 
umph ; for His trial consisted in the withdrawal, as 
of other causes of consolation, so of that very con- 
sciousness and anticipation. The same act of the will 
which admitted the influence upon His soul of any 
distress at all, admitted all distresses at once. It was 
not the contest between antagonist impulses and views, 
coming from without, but the operation of an inward 
resolution. As men of self-command can turn from 
one thought to another at their will, so, much more, 
did He deliberately deny Himself the comfort, and 
satiate Himself with the woe. In that moment His 
soul thought not of the future, He thought only of the 



our Lord in His Passion. 335 

present burden which was upon Him, and which He 
had come upon earth to sustain. 

And now, my brethren, what was it He had to bear, 
when He thus opened upon His soul the torrent of 
this predestinated pain ? Alas ! He had to bear what 
is well known to us, what is familiar to us, but what 
to Him was woe unutterable. He had to bear, that 
which is so easy a thing to us, so natural, so welcome, 
that we cannot conceive of it as of a great endurance, 
but which to Him had the scent and the poison of 
death ; — He had, my dear brethren, to bear the weight 
of^sin ; He had to_ b_ear your sins ; He had to bear the 
sins o f t he wholejworld . Sin is an easy thing to us ; 
we think little of it ; we do not understand how the 
Creator can think much of it ; we cannot bring our 
imagination to believe that it deserves retribution, 
and, when even in this world punishments follow upon 
it, we explain them away or turn our minds from 
them. But consider what sin is in itself; it is re- 
bellion against God ; it is a traitor's act who aims at 
the overthrow and death of His sovereign ; it is that, 
if I may use a strong expression, which, could the 
Divine Governor of the world cease to be, would be 
sufficient to bring it about. Sin is the mortal enemy 
of the All-holy, so that He and it cannot be together ; 
and as the All-holy drives it from His presence into 
the outer darkness, so, if God could be less than God, it 
is sin that would have power to make Him less. And 
here observe, my brethren, that when once Almighty 
Love, by taking flesh, entered this created system, 
and submitted Himself to its laws, then forthwith this 



336 Mental Sufferings of 

antagonist of good and truth, taking advantage of the 
opportunity, flew at that flesh, which He had taken, 
and fixed on it, and was its death. The envy of the 
Pharisees, the treachery of Judas, and the madness of 
the people, were but the instrument or the expression 
of the enmity which sin felt towards Eternal Purity, 
as soon as, in infinite mercy towards men, He put 
Himself within its reach. Sin could not touch His 
Divine Majesty ; but it could assail Him in that way 
in which He allowed Himself to be assailed, that is, 
through the medium of His humanity. And in the 
issue, in the death of God incarnate, you are but 
taught, my brethren, what sin is in itself, and what it 
was which then was falling, in its hour and in its 
strength,^upon His human nature, when He allowed 
that nature to be so filled with horror and dismay at 
the very anticipation. 

There, then, in that most awful hour, knelt the 
Saviour of the world, putting off the defences of His 
divinity, dismissing His reluctant Angels, who in 
myriads were ready at His call, and opening His 
arms, baring His breast, sinless as He was, to the 
assault of His foe, — of a foe whose breath was a 
pestilence, and whose embrace was an agony. There 
He knelt, motionless and still, while the vile and 
horrible fiend clad His spirit in a robe steeped in all 
that is hateful and heinous in human crime, which 
clung close round His heart, and filled His conscience, 
and found its way into every sense and pore of His 
mind, and spread over Him a moral leprosy, till He 
almost felt Himself to be that which he never could 



our Lord in His Passion. 2)ol 

be, and which His foe would fain have made Him. 
Oh, the horror, when He looked, and did not know 
Himself, and felt as a foul and loathsome sinner, from 
His vivid perception of that mass of corruption which 
poured over His head and ran down even to the skirts 
of His garments ! Oh, the distraction, when He found 
His eyes, and hands, and feet, and lips, and heart, as 
if the members of the Evil One, and not of God ! Are 
these the hands of the Immaculate Lamb of God, once 
innocent, but now red with ten thousand barbarous 
deeds of blood ? are these His lips, not uttering prayer, 
and praise, and holy blessings, but as if defiled with 
oaths, and blasphemies, and doctrines of devils ? or 
His eyes, profaned as they are by all the evil visions 
and idolatrous fascinations for which men have aban- 
doned their Adorable Creator ? And His ears, they 
ring with sounds of revelry and of strife ; and His 
heart is frozen with avarice, and cruelty, and unbelief; 
and His very memory is laden with every sin which 
has been committed since the fall, in all regions of the 
earth, with the pride of the old giants, and the lusts 
of the five cities, and the obduracy of Egypt, and the 
ambition of Babel, and the unthankfulness and scorn 
of Israel. Oh, who does not know the misery of a 
haunting thought which comes again and again, in 
spite of rejection, to annoy, if it cannot seduce ? or of 
some odious and sickening imafjination, in no sense 
one's own, but forced upon the mind from without ? or 
of evil knowledge, gained with or without a man's 
fault, but which he would give a great price to be rid 

of at once and for ever ? And adversaries such as 

22 



338 Mental Sufferings of 

these gather around Thee, Blessed Lord, in millions 
now ; they come in troops more numerous than the 
locust or the palmer- worm, or the plagues of hail, and 
flies, and frogs, which were sent against Pharaoh, Of 
the living and of the dead and of the as yet unborn, 
of the lost and of the saved, of Thy people and of 
strangers, of sinners and of Saints, all sins are there. 
Thy dearest are there, Thy saints and Thy chosen are 
upon Thee, Thy three Apostles, Peter, James, and 
John; but not as comforters, but as accusers, like the 
friends of Job, " sprinkling dust towards heaven," and 
heaping curses on Thy head. All are there but one ; 
one only is not there, one only ; for she, who had no 
part in sin, she only could console Thee, and therefore 
she is not nigh. She will be near Thee on the Cross, 
she is separated from Thee in the garden. She has 
been Thy companion and Thy confidant through Thy 
life, she interchanged with Thee the pure thoughts and 
holy meditations of thirty years ; but her virgin ear 
may not take in, nor may her immaculate heart con- 
ceive, what now is in vision before Thee. None was 
equal to the weight but God ; sometimes before Thy 
Saints Thou hast brought the image of a single sin, as 
it appears in the light of Thy countenance, or of 
venial sins, not mortal ; and they have told us 
that the sight did all but kill them, nay, would have 
killed them, had it not been instantly withdrawn. 
The Mother of God, for all her sanctity, nay, by reason 
of it, could not have borne even one brood of that in- 
numerable progeny of Satan which now compasses Thee 
about. It is the long history of a world, and God 



otir Lord in His Passion. 339 

alone can bear the load of it. Hopes blighted, vows 
broken, lights quenched, warnings scorned, opportuni- 
ties lost ; the innocent betrayed, the young hardened, 
the penitent relapsing, the just overcome, the aged 
failing ; the sophistry of misbelief, the wilfulness of 
passion, the obduracy of pride, the tyranny of habit, 
the canker of remorse, the wasting fever of care, the 
anguish of shame, the pining of disappointment, the 
sickness of despair ; such cruel, such pitiable spec- 
tacles, such heartrending, revolting, detestable, mad- 
dening scenes ; nay, the haggard faces, the convulsed 
lips, the flushed cheek, the dark brow of the willing 
slaves of evil, they are all before Him now ; they 
are upon Him and in Him. They are with Him 
instead of that ineffable peace which has inhabited His 
soul since the moment of His conception. They are 
upon Him, they are all but His own ; He cries to His 
Father as if He were the criminal, not the victim ; 
His agony takes the form of guilt and compunction. 
He is doing penance. He is making confession. He is 
exercising contrition with a reality and a virtue 
infinitely greater than that of all Saints and penitents 
together ; for He is the One Victim for us all, the 
sole Satisfaction, the real Penitent, all but the real 
sinner. 

He rises languidly from the earth, and turns around 
to meet the traitor and his band, now quickly nearing 
the deep shade. He turns, and lo ! there is blood 
upon His garment and in His footprints. Whence 
come these first-fruits of the passion of the Lamb ? 
no soldier's scourge has touched His shoulders, nor 



340 Mental Sufferings of 

the hangman's nails His hands and feet. My brethren, 
He has bled before His time ; He has shed blood; yes, 
and it is His agonizing soul which has broken up 
His framework of flesh and poured it forth. His 
passion has begun from within. That tormented 
Heart, the seat of tenderness and love, began at 
length to labour and to beat with vehemence beyond 
its nature ; " the foundations of the great deep were 
broken up ; " the red streams rushed forth so copious 
and fierce as to overflow the veins, and bursting 
through the pores, they stood in a thick dew over His 
whole skin ; then forming into drops, they rolled down 
full and heavy, and drenched the ground. 

" My soul is sorrowful even unto death," He said. 
It has been said of that dreadful pestilence which 
now is upon us, that it begins with death ; by which 
is meant that it has no stage or crisis, that hope is 
over when it comes, and that what looks like its course 
is but the death agony and the process of dissolution ; 
and thus our Atoning Sacrifice, in a much higher 
sense, began with this passion of woe, and only did 
not die, because at His Omnipotent will His Heart did 
not break, nor Soul separate from Body, till He had 
sufi'ered on the Cross. 

No; He has not yet exhausted that full chalice, 
from which at first His natural infirmity shrank. The 
seizure, and the arraignment, and the buff"eting, and 
the prison, and the trial, and the mocking, and the 
passing to and fro, and the scourging, and the crown 
of thorns, and the slow march to Calvary, and the 
crucifixion, these are all to come. A night and a 



our Lord in His Passion. 341 

day, hour after hour, is slowly to run out before the 
end comes, and the Satisfaction is completed. 

And then, when the appointed moment arrived, and 
He gave the word, as His passion had begun with His 
soul, with the soul did it end. He did not die of 
bodily exhaustion, or of bodily pain ; at His will His 
tormented Heart broke, and He commended His 
Spirit to the Father. 

" Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these 
humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite 
themselves with me in spirit to adore Thee. holiest 
Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to 
offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, 
for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who 
are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all 
moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I 
recommend to Thee, my Jesu, Holy Church, Thy 
dear spouse, and our true Mother, all just souls and 
all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all 
mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in 
vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in 
Purgatory, of those in particular, who have practised 
in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring 
Thee." 



DISCOURSE XVII. 

THE GLORIES OF MAR Y FOR THE SAKE OF HER SON. 

TTTE know, my brethren, that in the natural world 
^ nothing is superfluous, nothing incomplete, 
nothing independent ; but part answers to part, and 
all details combine to form one mighty whole. Order 
and harmony are among the first perfections which we 
discern in this visible creation ; and the more we exa- 
mine into it, the more widely and minutely they are 
found to belong to it. " All things are double," says 
the "Wise Man, " one against another ; and He hath 
made nothing defective." It is the very character 
and definition of " the heavens and the earth," as con- 
trasted with the void or chaos which preceded them, 
that everything is now subjected to fixed laws ; and 
every motion, and influence, and effect can be accounted 
for, and, were our knowledge sufficient, could be antici- 
pated. Moreover, it is plain, on the other hand, that it 
is only in proportion to our observation and our research 
that this truth becomes apparent ; for though a number 
of things even at first sight are seen to proceed accord- 
ing to an established and beautiful order, yet in other 



Glories of Mary for the Sake of her Son. 343 

instances the law to which they are conformed is with 
difficulty discovered ; and the words " chance," and 
"hazard," and "fortune," have come into use as 
expressions of our ignorance. Accordingly, you may 
fancy rash and irreligious minds who are engaged day 
after day in the business of the world, suddenly look- 
ing out into the heavens or upon the earth, and 
criticizing the great Architect, arguing that there are 
creatures in existence which are rude or defective in 
their constitution, and asking questions which would 
but evidence their want of scientific education. 

The case is the same as regards the supernatural 
world. The great truths of Kevelation are all connected 
together and form a whole. Every one can see this in 
a measure even at a glance, but to understand the full 
consistency and harmony of Catholic teaching requires 
study and meditation. Hence, as philosophers of this 
world bury themselves in museums and laboratories, 
descend into mines, or wander among woods or on the 
sea-shore, so the inquirer into heavenly truths dwells 
in the cell and the oratory, pouring forth his heart in 
prayer, collecting his thoughts in meditation, dwell- 
ing on the idea of Jesus, or of Mary, or of grace, or of 
eternity, and pondering the words of holy men who 
have gone before him, till before his mental sight 
arises the hidden wisdom of the perfect, " which God 
predestined before the world unto our glory," and 
which He " reveals unto them by His Spirit." And, 
as ignorant men may dispute the beauty and harmony 
of the visible creation, so men, who for six days in tlie 
week are absorbed in worldly toil, who live for wealth, 



344 ^^^^ Glories of Mary 

or name, or self-indulgence, or profane knowledge, 
and do but give their leisure moments to the thought 
of religion, never raising their souls to God, never 
asking for His enlightening grace, never chastening 
their hearts and bodies, never steadily contemplating 
the objects of faith, but judging hastily and peremp- 
torily according to their private views or the humour of 
the hour ; such men, I say, in like manner, may easily, 
or will for certain, be surprised and shocked at portions 
of revealed truth, as if strange, or harsh, or extreme, 
or inconsistent, and will in whole or in part reject it. 

I am going to apply this remark to the subject of 
the prerogatives with which the Church invests the 
Blessed Mother of God. They are startling and diffi- 
cult to those whose imagination is not accustomed to 
them, and whose reason has not reflected on them ; 
but the more carefully and religiously they are dwelt 
on, the more, I am sure, will they be found essential 
to the Catholic faith, and integral to the worship of 
Christ. This simply is the point which I shall insist 
on, — disputable indeed by aliens from the Church, but 
most clear to her children, — that the glories of Mary 
are for the sake of Jesus ; and that we praise and 
bless her as the first of creatures, that we may duly 
confess Him as our sole Creator. 

When the Eternal Word decreed to come on earth. 
He did not purpose. He did not work, by halves ; but 
He came to be a man like any of us, to take a human 
soul and body, and to make them His own. He did 
not come in a mere apparent or accidental form, as 
Angels appear to men ; nor did He merely over- 



for the Sake of her Son. 345 

shadow an existing man, as He overshadows His 
Saints, and call Him by the name of God ; but He 
"was made flesh". He attached to Himself a manhood, 
and became as really and truly man as He was God, 
so that henceforth He was both God and man, or, in 
other words. He was One Person in two natures, divine 
and human. This is a mystery so marvellous, so diffi- 
cult, that faith alone firmly receives it ; the natural 
man may receive it for a while, may think he re- 
ceives it, but never really receives it ; begins, as soon 
as he has professed it, secretly to rebel against it, 
evades it, or revolts from it. This he has done from 
the first ; even in the lifetime of the beloved disciple 
men arose, who said that our Lord had no body at all, 
•or a body framed in the heavens, or that He did not 
suffer, but another suffered in His stead, or that He was 
but for a time possessed of the human form which was 
born and which suffered, coming into it at its baptism, 
and leaving it before its crucifixion, or, again, that He 
was a mere man. That " in the beginning was the 
Word, and the Word was witli God, and the Word was 
God, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among 
us," was too hard a thing for the unregenerate reason. 
The case is the same at this day ; mere Protestants 
have seldom any real perception of the doctrine of God 
and man in one Person. They speak in a dreamy, 
shadowy way of Christ's divinity ; but, when their 
meaning is sifted, you will find them very slow to com- 
mit themselves to any statement sufficient to express 
the Catholic dogma. They will tell you at once, that 
the subject is not to be inquired into, for that it is 



346 The Glories of Mary 

impossible to inquire into it at all, without being 
technical and subtle. Then when they comment on 
the Gospels, they will speak of Christ, not simply and 
consistently as God, but as a being made up of God 
and man, partly one and partly the other, or between 
both, or as a man inhabited by a special divine pre- 
sence. Sometimes they even go on to deny that He 
was in heaven the Son of God, saying that He became 
the Son, when He was conceived of the Holy Ghost \ 
and they are shocked, and think it a mark both of 
reverence and good sense to be shocked, when they 
hear the Man spoken of simply and plainly as God. 
They cannot bear to have it said, except as a figure or 
mode of speaking, that God had a human body, or 
that God suffered ; they think that the " Atonement," 
and " Sanctification through the Spirit," as they 
speak, is the sum and subst-ance of the Gospel, and 
they are shy of any dogmatic expression which goes 
beyond them. Such, I believe, is the ordinary cha- 
racter of the Protestant notions among us as to the 
divinity of Christ, whether among members of the 
Anglican communion, or dissenters from it, excepting 
a small remnant of them. 

Now, if you would witness against these unchristian 
opinions, if you would bring out distinctly and beyond 
mistake and evasion, the simple idea of the Catholic 
Church that God is man, could you do it better than 
by laying down in St. John's words that " God became 
man"? and again could you express this more empha- 
tically and unequivocally than by declaring that He 
was lorn a man, or that He had a Mother ? The world 



for the Sake of her Son. 347 

allows that God is man ; the admission costs it little, 
for God is everywhere, and (as it may say) is every- 
thing ; but it shrinks from confessing that God is the 
Son of Mary. It shrinks, for it is at once confronted 
with a severe fact, which violates and shatters its own 
unbelieving view of things ; the revealed doctrine 
forthwith takes its true shape, and receives an his- 
torical reality ; and the Almighty is introduced into 
His own world at a certain time and in a definite way. 
Dreams are broken and shadows depart ; the divine 
truth is no longer a poetical expression, or a devotional 
exaggeration, or a mystical economy, or a mythical 
representation. " Sacrifice and offering," the shadows 
of the Law, "Thou wouldst not, but a body hast 
Thou fitted to Me. That which was from the be- 
ginning, which we have heard, which we have seen 
with our eyes, which we have diligently looked upon, 
and our hands have handled," " That which we have 
seen and have heard, declare we unto you ; " — such is 
the record of the Apostle, in opposition to those 
" spirits " which denied that " Jesus ChHst had ap- 
peared in the flesh," and which " dissolved " Him by 
denying either His human nature or His divine. And 
the confession that Mary is Deipara, or the Mother of 
God, is that safeguard wherewith we seal up and 
secure the doctrine of the Apostle from all evasion, 
and that test whereby we detect all the pretences of 
those bad spirits of "Antichrist which have gone out 
into the world." It declares that He is God; it implies 
that He is man ; it suggests to us that He is God still, 
though He has become man, and that He is true man 



348 The Glories of Mary 

though He is God. By witnessing to the process of the 
union, it secures the reality of the two suhjeds of the 
union, of the divinity and of the manhood. If Mary is 
the Mother of God, Christ must be literally Em- 
manuel, God with us. And hence it was, that, when 
time went on, and the bad spirits and false prophets 
grew stronger and bolder and found a way into the 
Catholic body itself, then the Church, guided by God, 
could find no more effectual and sure way of expelling 
them, than that of using this word Deipara against 
them ; and, on the other hand, when they came up 
again from the realms of darkness, and plotted the 
utter overthrow of Christian faith in the sixteenth 
century, then they could find no more certain expedient 
for their hateful purpose, than that of reviling and 
blaspheming the prerogatives of Mary, for they knew 
full well that, if they could once get the world to dis- 
honour the Mother, the dishonour of the Son would 
follow close. The Church and Satan agreed together 
in this, that Son and Mother went together ; and the 
experience of three centuries has confirmed their testi- 
mony ; for Catholics who have honoured the Mother, 
still worship the Son, while Protestants, who now have 
ceased to confess the Son, began then by scoffing at 
the Mother. 

You see then, my brethren, in this particular, the 
harmonious consistency of the revealed system, and 
the bearing of one doctrine upon another ; Mary is 
exalted for the sake of Jesus. It was fitting that she, 
as being a creature, though the first of creatures, 
should have an office of ministration. She, as others. 



for the Sake of her Son. 349 

came into the world to do a work, she had a mission 
to fulfil ; her grace and her glory are not for her own 
sake, but for her Maker's ; and to her is committed 
the custody of the Incarnation ; this is her appointed 
office, — " A Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, 
and they shall call His Name Emmanuel." As she 
was once on earth, and was personally the guardian of 
her Divine Child, as she carried Him in her womb, 
folded Him in her embrace, and suckled Him at her 
breast, so now, and to the latest hour of the Church, 
do her glories and the devotion paid her proclaim and 
define the right faith concerning Him as God and 
man. Every Church which is dedicated to her, every 
altar which is raised under her invocation, every image 
which represents her, every Litany in her praise, every 
Hail Mary for her continual memory, does but remind 
us that there was One who, though He was all-blessed 
from all eternity, yet for the sake of sinners, " did not 
shrink from the Virgin's womb." Thus she is the 
Turris Davidica, as the Church calls her, " the Tower 
of David ; " the high and strong defence of the King of 
the true Israel ; and hence the Church also addresses 
her in the Antiphon, as having " destroyed all here- 
sies in the whole world alone." 

And here, my brethren, a fresh thought opens upon 
us, which is naturally implied in what has been said. 
If the Deipara is to witness of Emmanuel, she must 
be necessarily more than the Deipara. For consider ; 
a defence must be strong in order to be a defence ; a 
tower must be, like that Tower of David, " built with 
bulwarks ; " "a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all 



350 The Glories of Mary 

the armour of valiant men." It would not have suf- 
ficed, in order to bring out and impress on us the idea 
that God is man, had His Mother been an ordinary- 
person. A mother without a home in the Church, 
without dignity, without gifts, would have been, as far 
as the defence of the Incarnation goes, no mother at 
all. She would not have remained in the memory, or 
the imagination of men. If she is to witness and re- 
mind the world that God became man, she nmst be on 
a high and eminent station for the purpose. She must 
be made to fill the mind, in order to suggest the lesson. 
When she once attracts our attention, then and not 
till then, she begins to preach Jesus. " Why should 
she have such prerogatives," we ask, " unless He be 
God ? and what must He be by nature, when she is 
so high by grace ? " This is why she has other preroga- 
tives besides, namely, the gifts of personal purity and 
intercessory power, distinct from her maternity ; she 
is personally endowed that she may perform her office 
well ; she is exalted in herself that she may minister 
to Christ. 

For this reason, she has been made more glorious 
in her person than in her office ; her purity is a higher 
gift than her relationship to God. This is what is 
implied in Christ's answer to the woman in the crowd, 
who cried out, when He was preaching, " Blessed is 
the womb that bare Thee, and the breasts which Thou 
hast sucked." He replied by pointing out to His 
disciples a higher blessedness ; " Yea, rather, blessed," 
He said, " are they who hear the word of God and 
keep it." You know, my brethren, that Protestants 



for the Sake of Jier Son. 351 

take these words in disparagement of our Lady's 
greatness, but they really tell the other way. For 
consider them ; He lays down a principle, that it is 
more blessed to keep His commandments than to be 
His Mother ; but who even of Protestants will say that 
she did not keep His commandments ? She kept them 
surely, and our Lord does but say that such obedience 
was in a higher line of privilege than her being His 
Mother ; she was more blessed in her detachment from 
creatures, in her devotion to God, in her virginal 
purity, in her fulness of grace, than in her maternity. 
This is the constant teaching of the Holy Fathers : 
" More blessed was Mary," says St. Augustine, " in 
receiving Christ's faith, than in conceiving Christ's 
flesh ; " and St. Chrysostom declares, that she would 
not have been blessed, though she had borne Him in 
the body, had she not heard the word of God and kept 
it. This of course is an impossible case ; for she was 
made holy, that she might be made His Mother, and 
the two blessednesses cannot be divided. She who 
was chosen to supply flesh and blood to the Eternal 
Word, was first filled with grace in soul and body ; 
still, she had a double blessedness, of office and of 
qualification for it, and the latter was the greater. 
And it is on this account that the Angel calls her 
blessed ; " Full of grace" he says, " Blessed among 
women ; " and St. Elizabeth also, when she cries out, 
" Blessed thou that hast helieved." Nay, she herself 
bears alike testimony, when the Angel announced to her 
the high favour which was coming on her. Though all 
Jewish women in each successive age had been hoping 



352 The Glories of Mary 

to be mother of the Christ, so that marriage was 
honourable among them, childlessness a reproach, she 
alone had put aside the desire and the thought of so 
great a dignity. She, who was to bear the Christ, gave 
no welcome to the great announcement that she was 
to bear Him ; and why did she thus act towards it ? 
because she had been inspired, the first of woman- 
kind, to dedicate her virginity to God, and she did 
not welcome a privilege which seemed to involve a 
forfeiture of her vow. How shall this be, she asked, 
seeing I am to live separate from man ? Nor, till 
the Angel told her that the conception would be 
miraculous and from the Holy Ghost, did she put 
aside her " trouble " of mind, recognize him securely 
as God's messenger, and bow her head in awe and 
thankfulness to God's condescension. 

Mary then is a specimen, and more than a specimen, 
in the purity of her soul and body, of what man was 
before his fall, and what he would have been, had he 
risen to his full perfection. It had been hard, it had 
been a victory for the Evil One, had the whole race 
passed away, nor anyone instance in it occurred to show 
what the Creator had intended it to be in its original 
state. Adam, you know, was created in the image and 
after the likeness of God ; his frail and imperfect 
nature, stamped with a divine seal, was supported and 
exalted by an indwelling of divine grace. Impetuous 
passion did not exist in him, except as a latent element 
and a possible evil ; ignorance was dissipated by the 
clear light of the Spirit ; and reason, sovereign over 
every motion of his soul, was simply subjected to the 



for the Sake of her Son. 353 

will of God. Nay, even his body was preserved from 
every wayward appetite and affection, and was pro- 
mised immortality instead of dissolution. Thus he 
was in a supernatural state ; and, had he not sinned, 
year after year would he have advanced in merit and 
grace, and in God's favour, till he passed from paradise 
to heaven. But he fell; and his descendants were 
born in his likeness ; and the world grew worse in- 
stead of better, and judgment after judgment cut off 
generations of sinners in vain, and improvement 
was hopeless ; " because man was flesh," and, " the 
thoughts of his heart were bent upon evil at all 
times." 

However, a remedy had been determined in 
heaven ; a Eedeemer was at hand ; God was about 
to do a great work, and He purposed to do it suitably ; 
" where sin abounded, grace was to abound more." 
Kings of the earth, when they have sons bom to them, 
forthwith scatter some large bounty, or raise some high 
memorial ; they honour the day, or the place, or the 
heralds of the auspicious event, with some correspond- 
ing mark of favour ; nor did the coming of Emmanuel 
innovate on the world's established custom. It was 
a season of grace and prodigy, and these were to be 
exhibited in a special manner in the person of His 
Mother. The course of ages was to be reversed ; the 
tradition of evil was to be broken ; a gate of light 
was to be opened amid the darkness, for the coming 
of the Just ; — a Virgin conceived and bore Him. It 
was fitting, for His honour and glory, that she, who 
was the instrument of His bodily presence, should 

23 



354 '^^^ Glories of Mary 

first be a miracle of His grace ; it was fitting that she 
should triumph, where Eve had failed, and should 
" bruise the serpent's head" by the spotlessness of her 
sanctity. In some respects, indeed, the curse was not 
reversed; Mary came into a fallen world, and resigned 
herself to its laws ; she, as also the Son she bore, was 
exposed to pain of soul and body, she was subjected 
to death; but she was not put under the power of sin. 
As grace was mfused into Adam from the first moment 
of his creation, so that he never had experience of his 
natural poverty, till sin reduced him to it; so was 
grace given from the first in still ampler measure 
to Mary, and she never incurred, in fact, Adam's 
deprivation. She began where others end, whether 
in knowledge or in love. She was from the first 
clothed in sanctity, destined for perseverance, lumi- 
nous and glorious in God's sight, and inces- 
santly employed in meritorious acts, which continued 
till her last breath. Hers was emphatically 
" the path of the just, which, as the shining light, 
goeth forward and increaseth even to the perfect day;" 
and sinlessness in thought, word, and deed, in small 
things as well as great, in venial matters as well as 
grievous, is surely but the natural and obvious sequel 
of such a beginning. If Adam might have kept him- 
self from sin in his first state, much more shall we 
expect immaculate perfection in Mary. 

Such is her prerogative of sinless perfection, and it 
is, as her maternity, for the sake of Emmanuel ; hence 
she answered the Angel's salutation Gratia, 'plena, 
with the humble acknowledgment, ^ccc ancilla Domini, 



for the Sake of her Son. 355 

" Behold the handmaid of the Lord." And like to this 
is her third prerogative, which follows both from her 
maternity and from her purity, and which I will men- 
tion as completing the enumeration of her glories. I 
mean her intercessory power. For, if " God heareth 
not sinners, but if a man be a worshipper of Him, 
and do His will, him He heareth ;" if " the continual 
prayer of a just man availeth much;" if faithful 
Abraham was required to pray for Abimelech, " for 
he was a prophet ;" if patient Job was to " pray for 
his friends," for he had " spoken right things before 
God ;" if meek Moses, by lifting up his hands, turned 
the battle in favour of Israel against Amalec ; why 
should we wonder at hearing that Mary, the only 
spotless child of Adam's seed, has a transcendent 
influence with the God of grace ? And if the Gen- 
tiles at Jerusalem sought Philip, because he was 
an Apostle, when they desired access to Jesus, and 
Philip spoke to Andrew, as still more closely in 
our Lord's confidence, and then both came to Him, 
is it strange that the Mother should have power 
with the Son, distinct in kind from that of the purest 
Angel and the most triumphant Saint ? If we 
have faith to admit the Incarnation itself, we must 
admit it in its fulness ; why then should we start at 
the gracious appointments which arise out of it, or are 
necessary to it, or are included in it ? If the Creator 
comes on earth in the form of a servant and a crea- 
ture, why may not His Mother on the other hand 
rise to be the Queen of heaven, and be clothed with 
the sun, and have the moon under her feet ? 



356 The Glories of Mary 

I am not proving these doctrines to you, my brethren; 
the evidence of them lies in the declaration of the 
Church, The Church is the oracle of religious truth, 
and dispenses what the Apostles committed to her in 
every time and place. We must take her word, then, 
without proof, because she is sent to us from God to 
teach us how to please Him ; and that we do so is the 
test whether we be really Catholics or no. I am not 
proving then what you already receive, but I am show- 
ing you the beauty and the harmony, in one out of many 
instances, of the Church's teaching ; which are so well 
adapted, as they are divinely intended, to recommend 
that teaching to the inquirer and to endear it to her 
children. One word more, and I have done ; I have 
shown you how full of meaning are the truths them- 
selves which the Church teaches concerning the Most 
Blessed Virgin, and now consider how full of mean- 
ing also has been the Church's dispensation of them. 

You will find, that, in this respect, as in Mary's 
prerogatives themselves, there is the same careful 
reference to the glory of Him who gave them to her. 
You know, when first He went out to preach, she kept 
apart from Him ; she interfered not with His work ; 
and, even when He was gone up on high, yet she, a 
woman, went not out to preach or teach, she seated not 
herself in the Apostolic chair, she took no part in the 
Priest's office ; she did but humbly seek her Son in the 
daily Mass of those, who, though her ministers in 
heaven, were her superiors in the Church on earth. 
Nor, when she and they had left this lower scene, and 
she was a Queen upon her Son's right hand, not even 



for the Sake of her Son. 357 

then did she ask of Him to publish her name to the 
ends of the world, or to hold her up to the world's gaze, 
but she remained waiting for the time, when her own 
glory should be necessary for His. H e indeed had been 
from the very first proclaimed by Holy Church, and 
enthroned in His temple, for He was God; ill had it 
beseemed the living Oracle of Truth to have with- 
holden from the faithful the very object of their adora- 
tion; but it was otherwise with Mary. It became 
her, as a creature, a mother, and a woman, to stand 
aside and make way for the Creator, to minister to her 
Son, and to win her way into the world's homage by 
sweet and gracious persuasion. So when His name 
was dishonoured, then it was that she did Him service; 
when Emmanuel was denied, then the Mother of 
God (as it were) came forward; when heretics said 
that God was not incarnate, then was the time for 
her own honours. And then, when as much as this 
had been accomplished, she had done with strife; 
she fought not for herself. No fierce controversy, 
no persecuted confessors, no heresiarch, no anathema, 
were necessary for her gradual manifestation ; as she 
had increased day by day in grace and merit at Naza- 
reth, while the world knew not of her, so has she raised 
herself aloft silently, and has grown into her place 
in the Church by a tranquil influence and a natural 
process. She was as some fair tree, stretching forth 
her fruitful branches and her fragrant leaves, and 
overshadowing the territory of the Saints. And 
thus the Antiphon speaks of -her; "Let thy dwell- 
ing be in Jacob, and thine inheritance in Israel, and 



35^ The Glories of Mary 

strike thy roots in My elect." Again, "And so in 
Sion was I established, and in the holy city I likewise 
rested, and in Jerusalem was my power. And I took 
root in an honourable people, and in the glorious com- 
pany of the Saints was I detained. I was exalted like 
a cedar in Lebanus, and as a cypress in Mount Sion ; 
I have stretched out My branches as the terebinth, and 
My branches are of honour and grace." Thus was she 
reared without hands, and gained a modest victory, 
and exerts a gentle sway, which she has not claimed. 
When dispute arose about her among her children, she 
hushed it ; when objections were urged against her, 
she waived her claims and waited ; till now, in this 
very day, should God so will, she will win at length 
her most radiant crown, and, without opposing voice, 
and amid the jubilation of the whole Church, she will 
be hailed as immaculate in her conception. 

Such art thou. Holy Mother, in the creed and in 
the worship of the Church, the defence of many truths, 
the grace and smiling light of every devotion. In 
thee, Mary, is fulfilled, as we can bear it, an original 
purpose of the Most High. He once had meant to come 
on earth in heavenly glory, but we sinned ; and then 
He could not safely visit us, except with a shrouded 
radiance and a bedimmed Majesty, for He was God. 
So He came Himself in weakness, not in power ; and 
He sent thee a creature, in His stead, with a crea- 
ture's comeliness and lustre suited to our state. And 
now thy very face and form, dear Mother, speak to us 
of the Eternal ; not like earthly beauty, dangerous to 
look upon, but like the morning star, which is thy 



for the Sake of her Son. 359 

emblem, bright and musical, breathing purity, telling 
of heaven, and infusing peace. harbinger of day ! 
hope of the pilgrim ! lead us still as thou hast led ; 
in the dark night, across the bleak wilderness, guide 
us on to our Lord Jesus, guide us home. 

Maria, mater gratise, 
Dulcis parens clementise, 
Tu nos ab hoste protege 
Et mortis hora suscipe. 



DISCOURSE XVIII. 

ON THE FITNESS OF THE GLORIES OF MARY. 

^U'OU may recollect, my brethren, our Lord's words, 
-*- when on the day of His resurrection He had joined 
the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and found 
them sad and perplexed in consequence of His death. 
He said, " Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and 
so enter into His glory ? " He appealed to the fitness 
and congruity which existed between this otherwise 
surprising event and the other truths which had been 
revealed concerning the divine purpose of saving the 
world. And so too, St. Paul, in speaking of the same 
wonderful appointment of God ; " It hecame Him," he 
says, " for whom are all things, and through whom 
are all things, who had brought many sons unto glory, 
to consummate the Author of their salvation by suffer- 
ing." Elsewhere, speaking of prophesying, or the ex- 
position of what is latent in divine truth, he bids his 
brethren exercise the gift " according to the analogy 
or rule of faith ;" that is, so that the doctrine preached 
may correspond and fit into what is already received. 
Thus you see, it is a great evidence of truth, in the 
case of revealed teaching, that it is so consistent, that 
it so hangs together, that one thing springs out of 



On the Fitness of the Glories of Mary. 361 

another, tliat each part requires and is required by 
the rest. 

This great principle, which is exemplified so variously 
in the structure and history of Catholic doctrine, which 
will receive more and more illustrations the more care- 
fully and minutely we examine the subject, is brought 
before us especially at this season, when we are cele- 
brating the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, the Mother 
of God, into heaven. We receive it on the belief of 
ages; but, viewed in the light of reason, it is the 
Jitncss of this termination of her earthly course which 
so persuasively recommends it to our minds : we feel 
it " ought " to be ; that it " becomes " her Lord and 
Son thus to provide for one who was so singular and 
special both in herself and her relations to Him. We 
find that it is simply in harmony with the substance 
and main outlines of the doctrine of the Incarnation, 
and that without it Catholic teaching would have a 
character of incompleteness, and would disappoint our 
pious expectations. 

Let us direct our thoughts to this subject to-day, 
my brethren ; and with a view of helping you to do 
so, I will first state what the Church has taught and 
defined from the first ages concerning the Blessed 
Virgin, and then you will see how naturally the de- 
votion which her children show her, and the praises 
with which they honour her, follow from it. 

Now, as you know, it has been held from the first, 
and defined from an early age, tliat Mary is the Mother 
of God. She is not merely the Mother of our Lord's 
manhood, or of our Lord's body, but she is to be con- 



362 On the Fitness of 

sidered the Mother of the Word Himself, the Word 
incarnate. God, in the person of the Word, the 
Second Person of the All-glorious Trinity, humbled 
Himself to become her Son, Non horruisti Virginis 
uterum, as the Church sings, " Thou didst not disdain 
the Virgin's womb." He took the substance of 
His human flesh from her, and clothed in it He lay- 
within her; and He bore it about with Him after birth, 
as a sort of badge and witness that He, though God, 
was hers. He was nursed and tended by her ; He 
was suckled by her; He lay in her arms. As time went 
on, He ministered to her, and obeyed her. He lived 
with her for thirty years, in one house, with an uninter- 
rupted intercourse, and with only the saintly Joseph to 
share it with Him. She was the witness of His growth, 
of His joys, of His sorrows, of His prayers; she was blest 
with His smile, with the touch of His hand, with the 
whisper of His affection, with the expression of His 
thoughts and His feelings for that length of time. 
— Now, my brethren, what ought she to be, what is it 
becoming that she should be, who was so favoured ? 

Such a question was once asked by a heathen king, 
when he would place one of his subjects in a dignity 
becoming the relation in which the latter stood towards 
him. That subject had saved the king's life, and what 
was to be done to him in return ? The king asked. 

What should be done to the man whom the king 
desireth to honour ? " And he received the following 
answer, " The man whom the king wisheth to honour 
ought to be clad in the king's apparel, and to be 
mounted on the king's saddle, and to receive the royal 



the Glories of Mary. 363 

diadem on his head ; and let the first among the king's 
princes and presidents hold his horse, and let liim 
walk through the streets of the city, and say, Thus 
shall he be honoured, whom the king hath a mind to 
honour." So stands the case with Mary; she gave 
birth to the Creator, and what recompense shall be 
made her ? what shall be done to her, who had this 
relationship to the Most High ? what shall be the fit 
accompaniment of one whom the Almighty has deigned 
to make, not His servant, not His friend, not His in- 
timate, but His superior, the source of His second 
being, the nurse of His helpless infancy, the teacher 
of His opening years ? I answer, as the king was 
answered : Nothing is too high for her to whom God 
owes His human life ; no exuberance of grace, no ex- 
cess of glory but is becoming, but is to be expected 
there, where God has lodged Himself, whence God has 
issued. Let her " be clad in the king's apparel," that 
is, let the fulness of the Godhead so flow into her that 
she may be a figure of the incommunicable sanctity, 
and beauty, and glory, of God Himself : that she may 
be the Mirror of Justice, the Mystical Eose, the Tower 
of Ivory, the House of Gold, the Morning Star. Let 
her " receive the king's diadem upon her head," as the 
Queen of Heaven, the Mother of all living, the Health 
of the weak, the Eefuge of sinners, the Comforter of 
the afflicted. And " let the first amongst the king's 
princes walk before her," let Angels, and Prophets, 
and Apostles, and Martyrs, and all Saints kiss the hem 
of her garment and rejoice under the shadow of her 
throne. Thus is it that King Solomon has risen up 



364 On the Fitness of 

to meet His Mother, and bowed Himself unto her, and 
caused a seat to be set for the King's Mother, and she 
sits on His right hand. 

We should be prepared then, my brethren, to believe, 
that the Mother of God is full of grace and glory, from 
the very fitness of such a dispensation, even though 
we had not been taught it : and this fitness will appear 
still more clear and certain when we contemplate the 
subject more steadily. Consider then, that it has been 
the ordinary rule of God's dealings with us, that per- 
sonal sanctity should be the attendant upon high 
spiritual dignity of place or work. The Angels, who, 
as the word imports, are God's messengers, are also 
perfect in holiness ; " without sanctity no one shall see 
God ; " no defiled thing can enter the courts of heaven ; 
and the higher its inhabitants are advanced in their 
ministry about the throne, the holier are they, and the 
more absorbed in their contemplation of that Holiness 
upon which they wait. The Seraphim, who imme- 
diately surround the Divine Glory, cry day and night, 
" Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts." So is it 
also on earth ; the Prophets have ordinarily not only 
gifts, but graces ; they are not only inspired to know 
and to teach God's will, but inwardly converted to 
obey it. For surely those only can preach the truth 
duly, who feel it personally ; those only transmit it 
fully from God to man, who have in the transmission 
made it their own. 

I do not say that there are no exceptions to this rule, 
but they admit of an easy explanation ; I do not say 
that it never pleases Almighty God to convey any in- 



the Glories of Mary. 365 

timation of His will through bad men ; of course, for 
all things can be made to serve Him. By all, even 
the wicked, He accomplishes His purpose, and by the 
wicked He is glorified. Our Lord's death was brought 
about by His enemies, who did His will, while they 
thought they were gratifying their own. Caiaphas, 
who contrived and effected it, was made use of to pre- 
dict it. Balaam prophesied good of God's people in 
an earlier age, by a divine compulsion, when he wished 
to prophesy evil. This is true; but in such cases 
Divine Mercy is plainly overruling the evil, and mani- 
festing His power, without recognizing or sanctioning 
the instrument. And again, it is true, as He tells us 
Himself, that in the last day " Many shall say. Lord, 
Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in 
Thy Name cast out devils, and done many miracles ? ** 
and that He shall answer, " I never knew you." This, 
I say, is undeniable ; it is undeniable first, that those 
who have prophesied in God's Name may aftervMrds 
fall from God, and lose their souls. Let a man be ever 
so holy now, he may fall away ; and, as present grace 
is no pledge of perseverance, much less are present 
gifts ; but how does this show that gifts and graces do 
not commonly go together ? Again, it is undeniable 
that those who have had miraculous gifts may never- 
theless have luvev been in God's favour, not even when 
they exercised them ; as I will explain presently. But 
I am now speaking, not of having gifts, but of being 
prophets. To be a prophet is something much more 
personal than to possess gifts. It is a sacred office, it 
implies a mission, and is the high distinction, not of 



o 



66 On ike Fitness of 



the enemies of God, but of His friends. Such is the 
Scripture rule. Who was the first prophet and preacher 
of justice ? Enoch, who walked " by faith," and 
" pleased God," and was taken from a rebellious world. 
Who was the second ? " N"oe," who " condemned the 
world, and was made heir of the justice which is through 
faith." Who was the next great prophet ? Moses, the 
lawgiver of the chosen people, who was the " meekest 
of all men who dwell on the earth," Samuel comes 
next, who served the Lord from his infancy in the 
Temple ; and then David, who, if he fell into sin, re- 
pented, and was "a man after God's heart," And 
in like manner Job, Elias, Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel, 
and above them all St. John Baptist, and then again 
St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, and the rest, are all 
especial instances of heroic virtue, and patterns to 
their brethren. Judas is the exception, but this was 
by a particular dispensation to enhance our Lord's 
humiliation and suffering. 

Nature itself witnesses to this connection between 
sanctity and truth. It anticipates that the fountain 
from which pure doctrine comes should itself be pure ; 
that the seat of divine teaching, and the oracle of 
faith should be the abode of Angels ; that the conse- 
crated home, in which the word of God is elaborated, 
and whence it issues forth for the salvation of the many, 
should be holy, as that word itself is holy. Here you 
see the difference of the office of a prophet and a mere 
gift, such as that of miracles. Miracles are the simple 
and direct work of God ; the worker of them is but an 
instrument or organ. And in consequence he need not 



the Glories of Mary. 367 

be holy, because he has not, strictly speaking, a share 
in the work. So again the power of administering 
the Sacraments, which also is supernatural and mira- 
culous, does not imply personal holiness ; nor is there 
anything surprising in God's giving to a bad man 
this gift, or the gift of miracles, any more than in His 
giving him any natural talent or gift, strength or 
agility of frame, eloquence, or medical skill. It is 
otherwise with the office of preaching and prophesying, 
and to this I have been referring; for the truth first goes 
into the minds of the speakers, and is apprehended 
and fashioned there, and then comes out from them 
as, in one sense, its source and its parent. The divine 
word is begotten in them, and the offspring has their 
features and tells of them. They are not like " the 
dumb animal, speaking with man's voice," on which 
Balaam rode, a mere instrument of God's word, but 
they have " received an unction from the Holy One, 
and they know all things," and " where the Spirit of 
the Lord is, there is liberty;" and while they deliver 
what they have received, they enforce what they feel 
and know. " We have known and believed," says St. 
John, " the charity which God hath to us." 

So has it been all through the history of the Church ; 
Moses does not write as David ; nor Isaias as Jeremias ; 
nor St. John as St. Paul. And so of the great Doctors 
of the Church, St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Am- 
brose, St. Leo, St. Thomas, each has his own manner, 
each speaks his own words, though he speaks the while 
the words of God. They speak from themselves, they 
speak in their own persons, they speak from the heart, 



368 On the Fitness of 

from their own experience, with their own arguments, 
with their own deductions, with their own modes of 
expression. Now can you fancy, my brethren, such 
hearts, such feelings to be unholy ? how could it be 
so, without defiling, and thereby nullifying, the word 
of God ? If one drop of corruption makes the purest 
water worthless, as the slightest savour of bitterness 
spoils the most delicate viands, how can it be that the 
word of truth and holiness can proceed profitably from 
impure lips and an earthly heart ? No, as is the tree, 
so is the fruit ; " beware of false prophets," says our 
Lord ; and then He adds, " from their fruits ye shall 
know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs 
of thistles ? " Is it not so, my brethren ? which of you 
would go to ask counsel of another, however learned, 
however gifted, however aged, if you thought him 
unholy ? nay, though you feel and are sure, as far as 
absolution goes, that a bad priest could give it as 
really as a holy priest, yet for advice, for comfort, for 
instruction, you would not go to one whom you did 
not respect. " Out of the abundance of the heart, the 
mouth speaketh ; " "a good man out of the good 
treasure of his heart bringeth good, and an evil man 
out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil." 

So then is it in the case of the soul ; but, as re- 
gards the Blessed Mary, a further thought suggests 
itself. She has no chance place in the Divine 
Dispensation; the Word of God did not merely 
come to her and go from her; He did not pass 
through her, as He visits us in Holy Communion. 
It was no heavenly body which the Eternal Son 



the Glories of Mary. 369 

assumed, fashioned by the Angels and brought down 
to this lower world: no, He imbibed, He absorbed 
into His Divine Person, her Blood and the substance 
of her flesh ; by becoming man of her, He received 
her lineaments and features, as the appropriate 
character in which He was to manifest Himself to 
mankind. The child is like the parent, and we may 
well suppose that by His likeness to her was mani- 
fested her relationship to Him. Her sanctity comes, 
not only of her being His mother, but also of His 
being her son. " If the first fruit be holy," says St. 
Paul, " the mass also is holy ; if the mass be holy, so 
are the branches." And hence the titles which we 
are accustomed to give her. He is the Wisdom of 
God, she therefore is the Seat of Wisdom ; His Pre- 
sence is heaven, she therefore is the Gate of heaven ; 
He is infinite Mercy, she then is the Mother of 
Mercy. She is the Mother of " fair love and fear, 
and knowledge and holy hope ; " is it wonderful then 
that she has left behind her in the Church below 
" an odour like cinnamon and balm, and sweetness 
like to choice myrrh " ? 

Such, then, is the truth ever cherished in 
the deep heart of the Church, and witnessed 
by the keen apprehension of her children, that 
no limits but those proper to a creature can be 
assigned to the sanctity of Mary. Therefore, did 
Abraham believe that a son should be born to him 
of his aged wife ? then Mary's faith must be held as 
greater when she accepted Gabriel's message. Did 

Judith consecrate her widowhood to God to the surprise 

24 



3/0 On the Fitness of 

of her people ? much more did Mary, from her first 
youth, devote her virginity. Did Samuel, when a child, 
inhabit the Temple, secluded from the world ? Mar}' 
too was by her parents lodged in the same holy pre- 
cincts, even at the age when children first can choose 
between good and evil. Was Solomon on his birth 
called " dear to the Lord " ? and shall not the destined 
Mother of God be dear to Him, from the moment she 
was born ? But further still ; St. John Baptist was 
sanctified by the Spirit before his birth ; shall Mary be 
only equal to him ? is it not fitting that her privilege 
should surpass his ? is it wonderful, if grace, which 
anticipated his birth by three months, should in her 
case run up to the very first moment of her being, 
outstrip the imputation of sin, and be beforehand with 
the usurpation of Satan ? Mary must surpass all the 
Saints ; the very fact that certain privileges are known 
to have been theirs persuades us, almost from the 
necessity of the case, that she had the same and higher. 
Her conception was immaculate, in order that she 
might surpass all Saints in the date as well as the 
fulness of her sanctification. 

But in a festive season, my dear brethren, I must 
not weary you with argument, when we should offer 
specially to the Blessed Virgin the homage of our love 
and loyalty ; yet, let me finish as I have begun ; — I 
will be brief, but bear with me if I view her bright 
Assumption, as I have viewed her immaculate purity, 
rather as a point of doctrine, than as a theme for 
devotion. 

It was surely fitting then, it was becoming, that she 



the Glories of Mary. 371 

should be taken up into heaven and not lie in the grave 
till Christ's second coming, who had passed a life of 
sanctity and of miracle such as hers. All the works of 
God are in a beautiful harmony ; they are carried on 
to the end as they begin. This is the difficulty which 
men of the world find in believing miracles at all ; 
they think these break the order and consistency of 
God's visible world, not knowing that they do but 
subserve to a higher order of things, and introduce 
a supernatural perfection. But at least, my brethren, 
when one miracle is wrought, it may be expected to 
draw others after it for the completion of what is begun. 
Miracles must be wrought for some great end ; and if 
the course of things fell back again into a natural 
order before its termination, how could we but feel a 
disappointment? and if we were told that this certainly 
was to be, how could we but judge the information 
improbable and difficult to believe ? Now this applies 
to the history of our Lady. I say, it would be a greater 
miracle, if, her life being what it was, her death was 
like that of other men, than if it were such as to cor- 
respond to her life. Who can conceive, my brethren, 
that God should so repay the debt, which He con- 
descended to owe to His Mother, for the elements of 
His human Body, as to allow the flesh and blood 
from which It was taken to moulder in the grave ? 
Do the sons of men thus deal with their mothers ? do 
they not nourish and sustain them in their feebleness, 
and keep them in life while they are able ? Or who can 
conceive, that that virginal frame, which never sinned, 
was to undergo the death of a sinner ? Why should 



372 On tJie Fitness of 

she share the curse of Adam, who had no share in his 
fall ? " Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return," 
was the sentence upon sin ; she then, who was not a 
sinner, fitly never saw corruption. She died, then, as 
we hold, because even our Lord and Saviour died ; she 
died, as she suffered, because she was in this world, 
because she was in a state of things in which suffering 
and death are the rule. She lived under their external 
sway ; and, as she obeyed Caesar by coming for enrol- 
ment to Bethlehem, so did she, when God willed it, 
yield to the tyranny of death, and was dissolved into 
soul and body, as well as others. But though she 
died as well as others, she died not as others die ; for, 
through the merits of her Son, by whom she was what 
she was, by the grace of Christ which in her had an- 
ticipated sin, which had filled her with light, which 
had purified her flesh from all defilement, she was 
also saved from disease and malady, and all that 
weakens and decays the bodily frame. Original sin 
had not been found in her, by the wear of her 
senses, and the waste of her frame, and the decre- 
pitude of years, propagating death. She died, but 
her death was a mere fact, not an effect ; and, when 
it was over, it ceased to be. She died that she 
might live; she died as a matter of form or (as I 
may call it) an observance, in order to fulfil, what 
is called, the debt of nature, — not primarily for her- 
self or because of sin, but to submit herself to her 
condition, to glorify God, to do what her Son did ; 
not however as her Son and Saviour, with any suffering 
for any special end ; not with a martyr's death, for 



tJie Glories of Mary. 'X>1Z 

her martyrdom had been in living ; not as an atone- 
ment, for man could not make it, and One had made 
it, and made it for all; but in order to finish her 
course, and to receive her crovi^n. 

And therefore she died in private. It became Him, 
who died for the world, to die in the world's sight ; it 
became the Great Sacrifice to be lifted up on high, as 
a light that could not be hid. But she, the lily of 
Eden, who had always dwelt out of the sight of man, 
fittingly did she die in the garden's shade, and amid 
the sweet flowers in which she had lived. Her depar- 
ture made no noise in the world. The Church went 
about her common duties, preaching, converting, suffer- 
ing ; there were persecutions, there was fleeing from 
place to place, there were martyrs, there were triumphs; 
at length the rumour spread abroad that the Mother 
of God was no longer upon earth. Pilgrims went to 
and fro ; they sought for her relics, but they found 
them not ; did she die at Ephesus ? or did she die at 
Jerusalem ? reports varied ; but her tomb could not 
be pointed out, or if it was found, it was open ; and 
instead of her pure and fragrant body, there was a 
growth of lilies from the earth which she had touched. 
So, inquirers went home marvelling, and waiting 
for further light. And then it was said, how that 
when her dissolution was at hand, and her soul was 
to pass in triumph before the judgment-seat of her 
Son, the Apostles were suddenly gathered together in 
the place, even in the Holy City, to bear part in the 
joyful ceremonial; how that they buried her with 
fitting rites ; how that the third day, when they came 



374 On the Fitness of 

to the tomb, they found it empty, and angelic choirs 
with their glad voices were heard singing day and 
night the glories of their risen Queen. But, liowever 
we feel towards the details of this history (nor is there 
anything in it which will be unwelcome or difficult 
to piety), so much cannot be doubted, from the con- 
sent of the whole Catholic world and the revelations 
made to holy souls, that, as is befitting, she is, soul 
and body, with her Son and God in heaven, and that 
we are enabled to celebrate, not only her death, but 
her Assumption. 

And now, my dear brethren, what is befitting in 
us, if all that I have been telling you is befitting in 
Mary ? If the Mother of Emmaimel ought to be the 
first of creatures in sanctity and in beauty; if it 
became her to be free from all sin from the very first, 
and from the moment she received her first grace to 
begin to merit more ; and if such as was her beginning, 
such was her end, her conception immaculate and her 
death an assumption ; if she died, but revived, and is 
exalted on high ; what is befitting in the children of 
such a Mother, but an imitation, in their measure, 
of her devotion, her meekness, her simplicity, her 
modesty, and her sweetness ? Her glories are not only 
for the sake of her Son, they are for our sakes also. 
Let us copy her faith, who received God's message by 
the Angel without a doubt ; her patience, who endured 
St. Joseph's surprise without a word ; her obedience 
who went up to Bethlehem in the winter and bore our 
Lord in a stable ; her meditative spirit, who pondered 



the Glories of Mary. 375 

in her heart what she saw and heard about Him : her 
fortitude, whose heart the sword went through ; her 
self-surrender, who gave Him up during His ministry 
and consented to His death. 

Above all, let us imitate her purity, who, rather than 
relinquish her virginity, was willing to lose Him for 
a Son. my dear children, young men and young 
women, what need have you of the intercession of the 
Virgin-mother, of her help, of her pattern, in this re- 
spect ! What shall bring you forward in the narrow 
way, if you live in the world, but the thought and 
patronage of Mary? What shall seal your senses, 
what shall trauquillise your heart, when sights and 
sounds of danger are around you, but Mary ? What 
shall give you patience and endurance, when you are 
wearied out with the length of the conflict with evil, 
with the unceasing necessity of precautions, with the 
irksomeness of observing them, with the tediousness 
of their repetition, with the strain upon your mind, 
with your forlorn and cheerless condition, but a loving 
communion with her ! She will comfort you in your 
discouragements, solace you in your fatigues, raise 
you after your falls, reward you for your successes. 
She will show you her Son, your God and your all. 
When your spirit within you is excited, or relaxed, 
or depressed, when it loses its balance, when it is 
restless and wayward, when it is sick of what it has, 
and hankers after what it has not, when your eye is 
solicited with evil and your mortal frame trembles 
under the shadow of the Tempter, what will bring 
you to yourselves, to peace and to health, but the 



376 The Glories of Maiy. 

cool breath of the Immaculate and the fragrance of 
the Eose of Sharon ? It is the boast of the Catholic 
Religion, that it has the gift of making the young 
heart chaste ; and why is this, but that it gives us 
Jesus Christ for our food, and Mary for our nursing 
Mother? Fulfil this boast in yourselves; prove to 
the world that you are following no false teaching, 
vindicate the glory of your Mother Mary, whom 
the world blasphemes, in the very face of the world, 
by the simplicity of your own deportment, and the 
sanctity of your words and deeds. Go to her for the 
royal heart of innocence. She is the beautiful gift of 
God, which outshines the fascinations of a bad world, 
and which no one ever sought in sincerity and was 
disappointed. She is the personal type and repre- 
sentative image of that spiritual life and renovation 
in grace, " without which no one shall see God." 
" Her spirit is sweeter than honey, and her heritage 
than the honeycomb. They that eat her shall yet be 
hungry, and they that drink her shall still thirst. 
Whoso hearkeneth to her shall not be confounded, 
and they that work by her shall not sin." 



THE END. 



fS